Flu vaccine available for the vulnerable

A NEW four-strain flu vaccine, protecting against the nasty Brisbane virus, is being made available for at-risk Australians for free from this month to help them build up their immunity in time for the peak flu season due in August 2016.

Health Minister Sussan Ley said the Federal Government had already begun rolling out the new 2016 vaccine, with $31.3 million made available for up to 4.48 million free doses of the new flu booster.

Ms Ley said the government had moved to upgrade Australia's flu vaccine stocks from three strains to four, after the arrival of the Brisbane flu strain last year led to 2015 being recorded as the worst flu season in years.

"Last year we saw the arrival of some nasty strains of flu, like Brisbane, that led to nearly one-in-five recorded influenza cases ending up in hospital," Ms Ley said. "While many of us view the flu as nothing more than an annual inconvenience, some recent strains have seen serious complications in normally healthy people and it's important for the health, safety and productivity of not only yourself, but the nation, you get the flu shot before the flu gets you."

Those at increased risk of severe influenza and its complications include; people aged over 65 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months to five years and older than 15 years, pregnant women and someone with a medical condition, such as severe asthma, diabetes or heart disease.

For more information about the 2016 seasonal influenza vaccine, visit www.immunise.health.gov.au or call the Immunise Australia Information line on 1800 671 811.

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