Victoria could be in for another frightful flu season with reported cases in the state this year more than triple what they were at the same time in 2018.
It comes after flu cases dropped to about 11,000 last year following an alarming 2017 where more than 48,000 people were diagnosed with the illness.
Cases have already skyrocketed to 5372 so far this year, compared with 1744 at the same time last year, prompting the state government to warn to Victorians about the disease.
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said flu shots for children aged under five would be free.
People will be able to get a flu shot at certain pharmacies without needing to see a doctor.
"Coming down with the flu is not like catching a cold," Ms Mikakos said.
"It hits you quickly and hard, and it can last for weeks. And for some people, it can be deadly."
The state government took a swipe at the federal coalition about health funding allocations for Victoria, slamming them for "putting nurses, doctors and patients last".
The criticism was rejected by federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.
"The election is only hours old and already we have the most disgraceful health scare campaign from Labor - this time on the flu vaccination and children," he said.
"It is utterly shameful that Premier Daniel Andrews is politicising the flu season and we utterly reject the Victorian Labor government's assertion."
Australian Associated Press