Influenza is a serious disease in children, who are at high risk of complications such as pneumonia. The flu can also aggravate chronic health problems such as asthma.
30% of young Australian children get the flu each year and nearly 1,500 are hospitalised.
Who should be vaccinated?
The seasonal flu vaccine can be given to children from 6 months. It is especially important for those with medical conditions that increase their risk of severe infection, such as heart conditions, lung diseases (e.g. asthma), diabetes, kidney problems and low immunity.
The seasonal flu vaccine for 2010 includes swine flu protection. Children over 6 months who do not get the seasonal flu shot are encouraged to have the swine flu vaccine.
Is the flu vaccine safe?
The flu vaccine is safe in children and gives good protection. Side effects are usually minor and include fever, a reaction at the injection site (redness, swelling and pain) and muscle aches, which may last 1–2 days.
The vaccine is made of killed flu viruses and cannot give you the flu.
Your child’s chance of being harmed by the flu is far greater than the chance of being harmed by the vaccine.
Two doses required
Children under 10 years (not previously vaccinated) require 2 injections at least one month apart. In subsequent years, only a single dose is needed. Older children need only one dose.
The vaccine is given in autumn. It is free* for:
- All kids in Western Australia under 5 years
- Those with chronic health problems (above)
- Kids 6 months – 10 years on long-term aspirin
For other children the vaccine is available on a private script from your doctor. The swine flu vaccine is free* for all children.
* a consultation fee may be payable.
- Please note this information was correct at time of publication.
- For up to date information, speak to your doctor.