Why is the flu vaccine recommended?

Annual vaccination against seasonal influenza can reduce your chances of getting the flu, and can also work to lessen the severity of flu symptoms if you do obtain the virus.

When should I be vaccinated?

The best time for you to be vaccinated against the flu is in autumn (between April and May), prior to the flu season starting. The vaccination usually takes up to two weeks to take effect.

How effective is the flu vaccine?

No vaccine is 100% effective – however, evidence shows that the flu vaccine provides a good level of protection in healthy people. The vaccination usually takes up to two weeks to be effective.

If you have been vaccinated against influenza and you still catch the flu, you should experience a less severe illness and be less likely to develop other health complications.

Is the flu vaccine safe if I'm pregnant?

The flu vaccine is recommended in all stages of pregnancy and has been given safely to millions of pregnant women across the world. Studies looking at the effects of pregnant women receiving the seasonal flu vaccination indicate no negative effects on pregnant women or their babies.

Please see our flu vaccine and pregnancy frequently asked questions for more information.

Who should be vaccinated?

The seasonal flu vaccination is recommended every year for any person aged six months or older who wishes to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with flu. Please note, Real Health Management can only administer vaccines to those 18 years or over.

How often do I need to be vaccinated?

It is recommended that you be vaccinated against flu every year as the different strains of flu virus can change from year to year. This protects you against the most recent flu virus strains that are circulating.

Even if the main flu strains do not change, yearly vaccination is still recommended, as immunity from flu vaccination is not long term.

Is the flu vaccine safe?

Many people believe that the flu vaccine can give you influenza – this is simply a myth. While no vaccine is 100% safe, the compounds within the flu vaccine are deactivated (killed), meaning they cannot give you the virus. If you happen to develop the flu soon after having the vaccine, generally it is because you have been infected before the vaccine has had time to take effect.

Post vaccination, you may still contract the flu, but you will experience a milder case than those who have not been vaccinated. You may also experience mild flu-like symptoms for up to 48 hours after the flu shot as your immune system responds to the vaccine.

If you have any allergies or are concerned about the potential side effects of the flu vaccine, please discuss this with your doctor or immunisation provider before having the vaccination. Immunisation providers are trained to ask about potential allergic reactions before administering a vaccine and to treat such reactions if they occur post vaccination.

Are there any side effects from the vaccine?

Like any medication, some people may experience an unexpected reaction to the flu vaccine. Common side effects following flu vaccination include:

  • pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
  • low grade temperature
  • headache or muscle aches
  • drowsiness or tiredness
  • generally feeling unwell
  • a temporary small lump at the injection site.

Most side effects are minor, last a short time, resolve without any treatment and do not lead to any long-term problems. Generally, mild reactions begin within 6 to 12 hours. As with any medication, very rarely will you have a severe allergic reaction. However, if you do, this will typically occur within 15 minutes of receiving a vaccine. Due to this, it is important for you to wait for 15 minutes after receiving your vaccine before leaving.

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