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What is influenza?

Influenza, commonly known as flu, is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus. It is easily spread by coughing, sneezing, or by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your mouth or nose. Symptoms include:

  • Fever

  • Cough

  • Sore throat

  • Headache

  • Chills

  • Muscle aches

  • Tiredness

  • Vomiting


Flu is much more severe in pregnant women, infants, the elderly, and people with certain health conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease or a weakened immune system.

What is influenza (flu) vaccine?

The flu vaccine uses parts of the killed virus to create an immune response which can protect you from becoming ill, if you become exposed to live influenza virus. Because the flu vaccine contains only killed virus particles, and not living viruses, vaccination cannot cause flu.

 Who should receive the flu vaccine?

All children aged from 6 months to younger than 5 years in WA are eligible to receive the free State-procured flu vaccine. Under the National Immunisation Program the following people are also eligible to receive free flu vaccine:

  • All pregnant women

  • All persons 65 years of age or older

  • All Aboriginal Australians aged 15 years and older

  • All individuals with medical conditions that can predispose them to severe disease if they become infected with influenza

​Some people should not have flu vaccine

There are some instances when it is best to discuss having the vaccine with your doctor first. These include:

  • If you have ever had a severe allergy from the flu vaccine resulting in the swelling of your lips or tongue, acute respiratory disease or anaphylactic response.

  • If you have ever had Guillain-Barre syndrome

  • If you are unwell

What are the risks from influenza vaccine?

Any medicine, including a vaccine, has potential serious side effects such as a severe allergic reaction. However, the risk of the flu vaccine causing serious harm is extremely small.


Common mild reactions include low-grade fever, aches and soreness, and redness or swelling where the vaccine was given.


Serious reactions such as severe allergic reactions from flu vaccine can occur, but are very rare. People experiencing an extreme reaction should call an ambulance and see a doctor immediately.

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