Healthy living

Influenza (flu) vaccine

  • Influenza (the flu) is a highly contagious virus that affects the respiratory system.
  • The annual influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone from 6 months of age.
  • Vaccination is the best protection against influenza and its complications.
  • Based on the most recent medical advice, you can receive the influenza vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.
Influenza and COVID-19 vaccines

Do I need to have both the influenza vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, influenza and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses and so need different vaccines.

It is recommended to get the influenza vaccine in readiness for the influenza season. This will minimise the possibility of contracting both influenza and COVID-19 infection at the same time and provide greater protection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Why do I need the influenza vaccination if I have had all my COVID-19 vaccinations?

Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Therefore, they need different vaccines.

The COVID-19 vaccine does not protect against influenza, so you should still have an influenza vaccine.

If I have COVID-19, is it safe for me to get the influenza vaccine?

It is best to wait until you have fully recovered from COVID-19 before getting the influenza vaccine.

For further information, contact your immunisation provider.

Can I have my COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations at the same time?

Yes, you can now get your influenza vaccination at the same time as your COVID-19 vaccination (co-administered on the same day) as advised by the Australian Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI).

Studies show that co-administration of COVID-19 and influenza vaccines is safe and produces
a good immune response.

Read more detailed guidance about COVID-19 vaccines and influenza vaccination (external site).

Speak with your immunisation provider to check what is right for you.

Read more about the COVID-19 vaccine.

When is the best time to get the influenza vaccine?

For best protection against influenza, people are strongly advised to get the influenza vaccine every year. The influenza virus is constantly changing and the vaccine changes accordingly.

The optimal time to get vaccinated is usually Autumn as this provides protection in time for the peak influenza season (usually winter). However, it is never too late to get vaccinated as influenza can circulate in the community all year round.

After vaccination it can take up to 2 weeks to develop immunity and protect you from influenza.

Who can receive a free influenza vaccine?

Everyone over 6 months of age is encouraged to get vaccinated against influenza.

Some groups of people are at higher risk of serious complications from influenza and are eligible to receive a free influenza vaccine:

  • Aboriginal people 6 months and over
  • Children aged 6 months to under 5 years
  • Primary school aged children (pre-primary to Year 6)
  • People aged 6 months or over who have medical conditions such as:
    • heart disease
    • kidney disease
    • chronic respiratory conditions
    • chronic illnesses that required regular medical attention or hospitalisation in the previous year
    • chronic neurological conditions
    • immunocompromising conditions
    • haematological disorders
    • diabetes and other metabolic disorders
    • children aged 6 months to 10 years receiving long-term aspirin therapy.
  • Pregnant women (at any stage of pregnancy)
  • People 65 years and older
  • Vulnerable persons aged 6 months and older, including:
    • persons experiencing homelessness
    • residents in congregate living settings, such as residential aged care, disability care, mental health hostels and youth group houses.

Note: The vaccine is free for the groups above, however patients may be charged a consultation fee. Check costs when making an appointment.

Influenza vaccination is also recommended for people who:

I had to have the COVID vaccinations in order to work – is there a mandate for the influenza vaccine?

The influenza vaccine is highly recommended for at-risk groups.

Influenza vaccination may be required for certain occupations and industries (external site).

Is there anyone who shouldn't get the vaccine?

The only reason not to have an influenza vaccine is following a severe (anaphylactic) reaction to a previous dose of influenza vaccine, or to any component of any vaccine. Allergic reactions to an influenza vaccine are rare. Speak with your immunisation provider for advice.

If you are unwell, talk to your immunisation provider about whether to reschedule your vaccination.

Also tell your immunisation provider if you have ever had Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS, a severe illness causing muscle weakness). They will help you decide whether the vaccine is recommended for you. People with a history of GBS have an increased likelihood in general of developing GBS again, and the chance of them coincidentally developing the syndrome following influenza vaccination may be higher than in persons with no history of GBS. Diagnosis of GBS is complex and must be made by a specialist.

Is the influenza vaccine safe?

Yes. All vaccines available in Australia pass strict safety testing before being approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) (external site). AusVaxSafety is a national program to monitor the type and rate of reactions to each year's new influenza vaccine. Learn more at NCIRS (external site).

Learn more about vaccination safety.

You cannot get influenza from having an influenza vaccine as it does not contain live or killed virus.

It is possible to be exposed to influenza viruses shortly before getting vaccinated or during the two week period after vaccination that it takes the body to develop immune protection. This exposure may result in you becoming ill with influenza before protection from the vaccine takes effect.

People may also mistake symptoms of other respiratory viruses for influenza symptoms. The influenza vaccine only protects against influenza disease, not other illnesses.

Where can I get vaccinated?
What can I do if I have an adverse reaction after influenza vaccination?

Some people experience common reactions such as pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, low grade temperature, muscle aches and/or drowsiness. Any medicine, including the influenza vaccine, can have potentially serious side effects, such as severe allergic reaction. However, the risk of this is extremely small.

Learn more about the possible side effects of immunisation.

Seek medical advice if symptoms continue or get worse.

Western Australian Vaccine Safety Surveillance System

The Western Australian Vaccine Safety Surveillance System (WAVSS) is the central reporting service in WA for any significant adverse events following immunisation.

If you have experienced an adverse reaction to a vaccine:

Why do I need to get the influenza vaccination every year?

The influenza virus is constantly changing, and the vaccine changes every year to ensure protection against the most recent and common circulating strains.

The formulation of influenza vaccines used in Australia is determined each year by the Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee based on information and recommendations from the World Health Organisation.

There hasn’t been much influenza in WA, do I need to get vaccinated?

It is important to remain vigilant with influenza. After two years of border closures and public health measures from the COVID-19 pandemic, WA is facing a resurgence of influenza circulating in the community.

Both viruses circulating at the same time could have severe consequences for vulnerable people and place increased pressure on health systems at a time of year when hospitals are often at their busiest.

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect yourself from serious disease caused by influenza. By getting vaccinated against influenza, you can also help protect other people, especially people who are too sick or too young to be vaccinated.

The more people who are vaccinated in your community, the less likely the disease will spread.

I'm healthy and rarely get sick. Why do I need the influenza vaccine?

Protect yourself and others

Even healthy people can get very sick from influenza.

While we have taken great care in practicing social and public health measures over the last 2 years, we need to continue protecting those who are at serious risk of complications if they get influenza such as young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions. If they get influenza, complications may include high fever, pneumonia, worsening of other illnesses and in some cases death.

By getting vaccinated each year, you help to protect these vulnerable people from getting sick with influenza, as well as those who are unable to be vaccinated themselves (e.g. children under 6 months are too young to get vaccinated against influenza).

More information

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Visit healthdirect (external site) or call 1800 022 222
  • Phone the National Immunisation Information Line on 1800 671 811
  • For emergency or life-threatening conditions, visit an emergency department or dial triple zero (000) to call an ambulance

Last reviewed: 01-08-2022

Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

Where can I get my vaccine?