27 February 2018

Free flu vaccinations for Canberra children after horror flu season

| Lachlan Roberts
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Minister_Fitzharris talking to families about the new free flu vaccination. Photo: Supplied.

Minister Fitzharris talking to families about the new free flu vaccination. Photo: Supplied.

After last year’s flu cases skyrocketed, the ACT government will provide children aged between six months and five years a free influenza vaccination to help protect them from getting sick this flu season.

According to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Meegan Fitzharris, last year’s flu season was particularly bad, with two out of every 100 children aged less than five years notified to ACT Health with influenza infection.

“Offering this free vaccine for children between six months and five years will ensure more people, particularly those at greatest risk, are protected from the flu this winter,” Ms Fitzharris said.

Around 25,000 ACT children will be eligible for the free flu vaccination from April 2018 under the new program from the ACT government ensuring those at greater risk will be protected from the flu.

Miss Fitzharris fired a shot at the Federal government for not stepping up to the plate and putting the influenza vaccination on the National Immunisation Program.

“While we would have preferred to see the Federal Government step up to the plate and put this on the National Immunisation Program, the ACT will take action and join other states, including Victoria, NSW and Queensland, in offering the vaccination for free to young children.”

“We are focusing on children under five as they are at an increased risk of flu-related complications including middle ear infection, pneumonia and seizures. Influenza can also be fatal, even in healthy children. A yearly flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the risk of your child getting sick with the flu and spreading it to others,” Ms Fitzharris.

The vaccinations will be available for free from providers, including GPs and ACT Health Early Childhood Immunisation Clinics.

It is important for parents to know that if their child is receiving the vaccine for the first time, they will require two doses at least four weeks apart. Given the flu season usually occurs during winter and spring, parents are urged to get their child vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available from April prior to the flu season.

The flu vaccine normally takes up to two weeks to provide full protection. For further information on how best to protect yourself and your family from influenza. visit the ACT Health website.

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