Influenza (Flu) Vaccine for Children
Why vaccinate your child?
Small children have small airways and less respiratory reserve. This means they get sicker than older children with influenza infections, and have an increased likelihood of needing hospital admission due to these infections.
Young children are more likely to spread viral infections (they are not great at infection control!), and so vaccination reduces the risk of spread to vulnerable people such as children less than 6 months (who are too young to be vaccinated) and immunocompromised or elderly people.
The National Health and Medical Research Council therefore recommend that children under 5 years old and especially under 3 years old should be vaccinated against the influenza viruses.
The influenza viruses change each year, and so annual vaccination is an important measure to prevent these infections.
The 2018 vaccines are quadrivalent vaccines- which cover the four most common and virulent strains of Influenza A and B for the southern hemisphere influenza season.
The vaccine will not stop your child from catching the usual mild respiratory seasonal viruses- but covers the virulent true influenza viruses.
Will it make my child sick?
- The influenza vaccine is NOT a live virus vaccine, and so cannot make you unwell.
However as with all vaccines, you can experience a mild fever, lethargy and malaise for approximately a day. Paracetamol (Panadol) or Ibuprofen (Nurofen) syrup can help with these mild side effects.
How long does it last?
The vaccination takes approximately two weeks to be fully effective, but is only effective for around three- four months. This means it’s worth considering the timing of any vaccination to try and cover the worst of the viral season- maybe wait until mid-May.
For children under nine years old the first year they have the flu vaccine they should have a course of two vaccines four weeks apart to boost their immunity. They will only need a single vaccine in subsequent years.
How much does it cost?
FREE for: – Children over 6 months and under 5years except for SA and NT. This is a new initiative started in 2018.
Children of all ages with underlying medical conditions across all of Australia.
For children over 5 years- most GP surgeries charge approximately $15 per dose of the flu vaccine. It will cost $30 to cover them. Pharmacies maybe slightly cheaper- but usually and probably shouldn’t vaccinate children.
- National Institute of Clinical Studies. Flu Facts. Last viewed: March 2009.
- NHMRC. The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition 2013.
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- Brotherton J, Wang H, Schaffer A et al. Vaccine preventable diseases and vaccination coverage in Australia, 2003 to 2005. Communicable Diseases Intelligence 2007;31(Suppl)
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- Hoberman A, Greenberg DP, Paradise JI et al. Efficacy of inactivated influenza vaccine in preventing acute otitis media (AOM) in children [Abstract 752759]. Presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD, 2002
- Neuzil KM, Dupont WD, Wright PF, Edwards KM. Efficacy of inactivated and cold-adapted vaccines against influenza A infection, 1985 to 1990: the pediatric experience. Pediatr Infect Dis J 2001;20:733-740
- Vynnycky E, Pitman R, Siddiqui R et al. Estimating the impact of childhood influenza vaccination programmes in England and Wales. Vaccine 2008;26: 5321-5330