Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Flu vaccine FAQs

3-minute read

Do you want to know more about the flu vaccine? Here are the answers to some common questions.

When should I have the flu shot?

The flu vaccine is most effective within 3 to 4 months after it is given. Flu season in Australia usually runs from June to September, peaking in August, so it is important to get your flu shot before this time, in April or May.

Who should get the flu shot?

The Australian Government recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months gets the flu shot every year.

Can the flu shot give me the flu?

No. All flu vaccines for use in Australia are ‘inactivated’, which means they do not contain the live virus and you can't 'catch' the flu from the vaccine.

Sometimes people experience side effects from the flu shot that are similar to the early signs of the flu; for example, fever, tiredness and muscle aches. These side effects can start within a few hours of being vaccinated and sometimes last 1 or 2 days. They usually go away on their own once your body has mounted an immune response to the vaccine — which will protect you from the influenza virus. In 2017, about 1 in 20 Australians who received a flu vaccine reported side effects.

Sometimes I get the flu despite having had the flu shot — why is this and why should I bother?

The influenza vaccination prevents illness in 50–60% of healthy adults under the age of 65 years. Because the vaccine is not 100% effective some people may still catch the virus after getting vaccinated, but the risk is reduced nonetheless.

Although most people who get the flu recover without lasting effects, the flu can be very serious in some people and cause hospitalisation or even death. It is not possible to predict who will be severely affected. The flu vaccine both reduces your chances of getting the flu, and may reduce the severity of the symptoms, so it is still important to get vaccinated.

Are there different vaccines for children, adults, pregnant women and the elderly?

Generally, children, adults and pregnant women get the same vaccine to protect against the flu. However, if your child is under 9 years old and has not been vaccinated before, they will need to get 2 doses of the vaccine, at least 4 weeks apart, in their first year.

In 2018, 2 new flu vaccines (Fluzone High-Dose and Fluad) became available for people aged 65 years and over. These vaccines are not available for people younger than 65.

Is it OK to get the flu vaccine more than once in the same flu season?

Studies have not shown any benefit for adults getting more than 1 dose of vaccine in the same flu season. Only children under 9 years old who have not been vaccinated for the flu before should receive a second dose of vaccine.

For more information on the flu vaccine, go to the Department of Health website or call the National Immunisation Hotline on 1800 671 811.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2019

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Flu vaccination -

Find out about the 2019influenza (flu) vaccine and the best time to be immunised toprotect against getting the flu this winter.

Read more on myDr website

Flu vaccination and pregnancy Vaccinate against flu. Protect your baby too | Australian Government Department of Health

The flu shot is safe for pregnant women, and provides effective protection for you and your new-born baby for the first six months of their life.

Read more on Department of Health website

Influenza Vaccine (Flu Vaccine) | HealthEngine Blog

Flu vaccine is an important step towards preventing the spread of influenza. Read about the types of vaccines and how to obtain them to prevent infections

Read more on HealthEngine website

Flu (influenza) vaccine

The flu vaccine triggers an immune response that can protect you from becoming ill if you are exposed to the influenza virus.

Read more on WA Health website

Influenza vaccine in pregnancy what expectant mothers need to know

Influenza flu vaccine in pregnancy, what expectant mothers need to know

Read more on WA Health website

Immunisation Coalition | Influenza-65 years and over - Immunisation Coalition

Influenza can cause serious complications and hospitalisation for people 65 years and older. Because of this free influenza vaccine is available to people 65 years and older.

Read more on Immunisation Coalition website

Immunisation Coalition | Travel FluSmart - Immunisation Coalition

Don't spend your overseas adventure sick. Get all the tips, tricks and info you need to protect yourself from Influenza before you start your trip.

Read more on Immunisation Coalition website

The flu shot, explained - NPS MedicineWise

Get your flu shot now -- everything you need to know about the flu shot in 2019

Read more on NPS MedicineWise website

Influenza factsheet - Fact sheets

Influenza, or flu, is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. The symptoms are more serious than a common cold. An annual flu shot is your best protection against influenza.

Read more on NSW Health website

Flu Vaccine for People Aged 65 Years and Over | Flu Tas

The National Immunisation Program provides free influenza vaccine for people aged 65 years and over

Read more on Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo