Pandemic influenza H1N1 2009 (‘swine flu’) vaccine has been approved for use in children from 6 months of age. The vaccine has been carefully studied and shown to be safe and effective in this age group.
Although the number of cases in Australia has reduced, a second wave of swine flu is expected in the next few months and is likely to be more severe than last year’s epidemic.
Swine flu is spreading in the northern hemisphere and the number of deaths is increasing. Swine flu is likely to be the most common strain of flu in Australia this winter.
Vaccination of children is especially important as they are more vulnerable and are at high risk of complications. Their risk of catching the infection is even greater now that school has resumed.
The vaccine is given by injection. Children under 10 years require 2 doses, given at least 28 days apart. A single dose will give good protection but a second dose will make it last longer (6-12 months).
The vaccine for children is the same as for adults. A lower dose is used for children 6 months to 3 years and does not contain thiomersol (a preservative).
The vast majority of children have no side effects. Around 1 in 10 get some swelling, redness and/or pain at the injection site. Fever, tiredness, headaches and muscle pains can also occur, but are less common. Side effects may last for 1-2 days.
What does it cost?
The vaccine is free although there may be a consultation fee from your doctor which can be claimed from Medicare.
Who should receive it?
Vaccination is recommended for all children (and adults) from 6 months of age.
Children who are moderately or severely ill with a fever should usually wait until they recover before getting the vaccine. Those who have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) from a previous vaccine or have a severe egg allergy should not be vaccinated.
For more information, speak to your GP or ring the Pandemic Hotline on 180 2007.
Date last reviewed: 8 February 2010
- Please note this information was correct at time of publication.
- For up to date information, speak to your doctor.