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Influenza (flu) is on the rise – parents urged to book children in for their free flu vaccine 

As a parent, we know you want to do everything possible to protect your child. One of the best ways to protect their health during flu season is by getting their free annual flu vaccination. Protecting your children’s health protects everyone in the family. 

The Department of Health’s latest surveillance data shows cases have increased across all age groups, with the biggest increase seen in kids aged under five – up 37 per cent in the fortnight ending 15 June. Meanwhile, just 23 per cent of Victorian children aged under five have had their free annual flu vaccination this season. 

Dr Finn Romanes, Director of the Western Public Health Unit, said that “If you have a child aged between six months and under five years the Western Public Health Unit strongly recommends booking your child in now for a flu vaccine.” 

“The annual flu vaccine provides the best protection possible against getting flu and developing a severe infection, as young children can be hospitalised and, in some cases, can die from flu” Dr Romanes said. 

More information on protecting children against flu is available by clicking here. 

It is never too late to get vaccinated 

Flu cases in our communities are high and are expected to continue increasing in the coming weeks. It is never too late to get vaccinated. Book your flu vaccine through your doctor (GP), Aboriginal health service, local pharmacy, or council immunisation service.  

Free flu vaccine is available under the National Immunisation Program for: 

  • people aged six months to less than five years (can be given at the same time as childhood vaccines)  
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and older  
  • pregnant women, at any stage during pregnancy  
  • people aged 65 years and older  
  • people aged six months and older with medical conditions putting them at increased risk of severe flu and its complications. 

Dr Finn Romanes said “Vaccination is key to protecting yourself and those around you from the flu. Flu vaccination reduces the chances of catching flu and the risk of serious illness if you do get it.”   

In addition to vaccination, there are simple steps we can all take to stop the spread of respiratory illnesses in the community, such as flu, seasonal respiratory illnesses and COVID-19. These steps will keep ourselves, our families and our communities well, and include:

  • washing your hands
  • coughing or sneezing into your elbow
  • wearing a mask
  • staying home when sick. 

For more information on Victoria’s 2024 flu season, the Western Public Health Unit recommends reading the CHO Advisory issued by the Victorian Department of Health, which is available by clicking here