Children between six months and five years old will be eligible for free flu jabs this year, under an influenza vaccination program to be offered by the NSW Government. Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced today that the NSW Government is investing $3.5 million for the vaccination program, following last year’s severe flu season.
“NSW, like the rest of the country, was subjected to a horror flu season last year. The program will target more than 400,000 children and ensure better protection for them and the wider community,” Ms Berejiklian said. “NSW is now ensuring every child under five has the opportunity to be better protected this winter.” Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said NSW childhood vaccination rates had increased by 6.3 percent since 2010, to 93.9 percent in 2017.
“We already have the some of the best childhood vaccination rates in the country and this free flu jab will go even further to protect our little ones from potentially deadly flu infections,” Mr Hazzard said. “Infants and young children are most likely to spread the flu and suffer complications – not only will the free flu jab help keep them safe during winter, but it will also protect their family and friends.”
Children who have never had a flu vaccination will need two doses, one month apart. The vaccine will cover four strains of influenza virus, two A strains and two B strains, likely to be circulating this winter. Last year’s flu season was the most severe in NSW since the 2009 pandemic. There were more than 12,000 confirmed cases of influenza in children under five last year, with many more likely to not to have been tested. By immunising younger children, those more vulnerable in the community will also be protected, including babies too young to receive a flu vaccine.
The Federal Government currently provides free flu vaccinations to Aboriginal children, those with chronic illnesses and people aged over 65. The $1.75 million NSW Health immunisation awareness campaign this year will provide parents and GPs with details about the new free influenza vaccine program.