Early influenza shots called for over 65s

The Western Australian Government is advising older Western Australians to book an appointment for their annual influenza vaccination.


Health Minister Roger Cook said, "I urge older Western Australians and parents of children - six months to Year 6 - to take advantage of our free vaccination programs this year.


"These vaccinations are really important right now as we expect to see seasonal influenza overlap with the COVID-19 virus.”


Free vaccinations for the over 65s will be available in the first week of April from WA GPs, immunisation clinics and some community pharmacies.


People aged 65 years and over are at higher risk of serious complications from flu than other healthy adults and are strongly advised to get the flu vaccine every year.


The vaccine increases the immune system's response in the over 65s, who are known to have a weaker response to influenza.


Immunisation is even more critical this year as WA hospitals prepare to deal with the impact of COVID-19.


The Government will also roll out a new free influenza immunisation program for all primary school children with vaccines available after Easter.


Seasonal influenza is a common, highly contagious, viral respiratory illness that last year saw 3,224 hospital admissions and 80 deaths in WA.


While the influenza vaccine won't prevent people from contracting COVID-19, it can help reduce the number of patients needing tests and care - relieving the pressure on WA's health system and hospitals.


Research has shown if 20 per cent of school aged children are vaccinated, it can reduce hospital admissions in all age groups related to influenza by over 30 per cent.


For more information about the flu vaccine see https://healthywa.wa.gov.au/


See also Commonwealth Government's “Immunisation for Seniors” at https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/immunisation/immunisation-throughout-life/immunisation-for-seniors


20 March 2020.