People aged 60-plus now have access to a high-dose four-strain influenza vaccine.
Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent is available on private prescription from a doctor or pharmacist.
Infectious diseases expert Professor Paul Van Buynder from the Griffith University School of Medicine said this was the first time Australians as young as 60 could access a vaccine other than a standard dose influenza vaccine, through their local pharmacy or GP. He said it was also the first time a four-strain high-dose influenza vaccine has reached our shores.
"While adults aged 65 and older and those who are medically at-risk are eligible for other influenza vaccines free of charge via the National Immunisation Program, this is the first high dose influenza vaccine indicated for Australians as young as 60," Professor Van Buynder said.
"This is a welcome option for older Australians and in particular the 1.5 million Australians aged 60-64, ahead of what may be a rebound influenza season resulting from less herd immunity over the past couple of years."
Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent will be available on private prescription at a cost of about $65-$70. Private health insurance may reimburse some or all of the cost of the vaccine, depending on your level of cover.
While influenza affects people of all ages, older people are at increased risk of serious complications. This is often due to the gradual deterioration of the immune system as people age.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in two years of record-low rates of influenza due to lockdowns, social distancing, and improved hand hygiene, about 56 per cent of all hospital admissions due to influenza occurred in Australians aged 60 and over.
"There is a common misperception that influenza, or 'the flu', is just a bad cold that might put you in bed for some time," Professor Van Buynder said. "Unfortunately, that is far from the truth.
"All adults should be vaccinated against influenza, and I encourage older Australians to speak with their doctor about how to best protect themselves against influenza this flu season."