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Annual flu vaccination

Key facts

  • Influenza is different from the common cold. It is usually more severe, lasts longer, and it can make your child very unwell.

  • It is recommended that all children aged six months or older have an annual vaccination to protect them against influenza. 

  • Influenza vaccines are free for all children aged six months to under five years. 

Last updated on 9 June 2023.
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What vaccines are recommended for my child?

If your child is six months or older, it is recommended they get an influenza vaccine every year. Influenza vaccines are free for all children aged six months to under five years. Influenza vaccines are given as a needle, usually in the thigh or arm.

Your child can get their annual influenza vaccination on its own, or at the same time as their age-specific vaccinations. The best time to get an influenza vaccine is before the influenza season, which is usually June to September.1

What disease do the vaccines protect my child against?

Influenza, sometimes called ‘the flu’ is an illness caused by influenza viruses. Although some of the symptoms are similar, influenza is different from the common cold. It is usually more severe and lasts longer.

Even if they are usually healthy, influenza can make your child very unwell. Influenza can lead to serious conditions like severe lung infection (pneumonia) or inflammation in the brain (encephalitis). Babies and children under 5 years are more likely to get severe influenza. They are more likely than adults and older children to need treatment in hospital.2

What do I need to do before the vaccination?

There’s no need to do anything special to get your baby or child ready for vaccination.

Most parents take their children to be vaccinated at their local general practice or at a vaccination clinic. If possible, take your child’s health record booklet with you so your doctor or nurse can make notes about the vaccinations they have had.

No matter how gentle your doctor or nurse is, needles hurt! And most children cry at least a little after they get a needle. The good news is there are some things you can do for your child to make needles feel less painful.

What do I need to do after the vaccination?

Some children could feel a little unwell or unsettled for a day or two after they get their vaccinations. Most of the common reactions will last between 12 and 24 hours and then get better, with just a little bit of love and care from you at home.

Serious side effects are very rare, but they can happen and some parents want to know more about them before they vaccinate their children.

If your child doesn’t seem to be getting better, or you are worried about them, you can get help from:

  • your doctor
  • your nearest emergency department
  • or by calling Health Direct on 1800 022 222.
When do we come back for more vaccinations?

The first time your child gets an influenza vaccine, they will need a second dose four weeks later. The second year your child gets an influenza vaccine (and every year after that), they will only need one dose.

Your child will also need to get their age-specific vaccinations. It is important that babies and children get vaccinated on time to make sure they are protected as early as possible.

If your child’s age-specific vaccinations are due just before the influenza season (usually June to September), they can get these vaccines and an influenza vaccine at the same appointment.

What if I still have questions?

If you still have some questions about vaccinations for your child, write them down and make an appointment with your nurse, your doctor, or your health worker so you can ask them.

  1. Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). Australian Immunisation Handbook, Australian Government Department of Health, Canberra, 2018,
  2. National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance. Influenza vaccines - Frequently Asked Questions. National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance: Sydney, Australia.