Every year, Healthworks provides onsite flu vaccinations to businesses across Australia. With more than 30 years of experience helping corporations and organisations of all sizes improve their employee’s health and productivity, we are committed to ensuring you have the most up-to-date, accurate health information.
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we have received about flu shots for 2024.
What is influenza?
Influenza, commonly called “the flu”, is a contagious disease caused by a virus that spreads easily from person to person. Compared with many other viral respiratory infections such as the common cold, influenza infection can cause severe illness and can also precipitate serious and life-threatening complications. Influenza viruses infect many parts of the body, including the nose, throat and lungs. Influenza symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, runny nose and watery eyes. Although the fever and body ache usually last for 3 – 5 days, coughing and fatigue can persist for two weeks or more.
Do I need a flu shot in 2024?
Yes, the flu shot is still recommended in 2024. The Australian Government recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months has a flu vaccination every year. It’s difficult to predict who will catch the flu or who will become seriously ill from it. The flu can require hospitalisation and can even be fatal.
Getting vaccinated against the flu helps protect both you and the people around you. It’s particularly important to protect vulnerable people in the community who can’t be vaccinated, such as babies who are younger than 6 months and adults with low immunity.
When is the flu season in 2024?
Generally the flu season in the southern hemisphere is between May and October, peaking around the end of June. As it takes up to two weeks to build your immunity after a flu shot, and considering that your immunity is strongest and most effective for 3-4 months after you are vaccinated, it’s best to be vaccinated earlier rather than later. Between late March and early May is the most popular time for vaccinations. Your best course of action is to go ahead and schedule your flu vaccination to protect yourself and those around you.
3 things you might not know about the flu shot!
- There is no live virus in the flu shot
- The composition of the vaccine changes every year
- The flu shot is safe for pregnant women at all stages
of their pregnancy
Why do I need to get vaccinated against the flu every year?
There are two main reasons for getting a yearly flu vaccine:
- Flu viruses are frequently changing and vaccines are updated each season to protect against the most recent and common circulating strains.
- A person’s immune protection from influenza vaccination declines over time and annual vaccination is recommended.
2023 Influenza Vaccination Strain
The Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee (AIVC) has released its recommendations for the composition of the flu vaccine for Australia in 2024, which aligns with the recommendations from the World Health Organisation.
The AIVC recommends the following viruses for the 2024 southern hemisphere season quadrivalent influenza vaccines:
For egg-based quadrivalent influenza vaccines:
- an A/Victoria/4897/2022 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
- an A/Thailand/8/2022 (H3N2)-like virus; and
- a B/Austria/1359417/2021 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus.
For cell- or recombinant-based quadrivalent influenza vaccines:
- an A/Wisconsin/67/2022 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
- an A/Massachusetts/18/2022 (H3N2)-like virus; and
- a B/Austria/1359417/2021 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus.
The recommendation for the B/Yamagata lineage component of quadrivalent influenza vaccines remains unchanged from previous recommendations:
- a B/Phuket/3073/2013 (B/Yamagata lineage)-like virus.
The AIVC recommendation for the composition of influenza vaccines for Australia in 2024 differs from the 2023 southern hemisphere and 2023/24 northern hemisphere recommendations. The southern hemisphere 2024 vaccine will contain two new strains for the A(H1N1)pdm09 and A(H3N2)- like virus.
What are the possible side effects from the flu shot?
Common side effects following seasonal flu vaccination include soreness, fever, redness, pain and swelling at the injection site, vomiting and malaise. These side effects are usually mild and resolve within a few days. Allergic reactions usually occur very soon after vaccination so it is important to wait in the allocated area for 15 minutes after being vaccinated.
How effective is the influenza vaccine?
The influenza vaccine provides a good level of protection which is 70% – 90% effective in healthy adults. It is important to know that it takes around two weeks after vaccination for a person to develop protection against influenza infection. Also, the influenza vaccine does not protect against respiratory illnesses caused by other viruses, such as the common cold and COVID.
Can I catch influenza from the vaccine?
No. It is impossible to “catch” influenza from the vaccine. The influenza vaccine contains only “killed”, inactivated virus particles. Because the virus particles are not live, they cannot spread through your respiratory system or cause illness like the real virus.
How does the vaccine work?
Flu vaccines stimulate your body to produce its own antibodies to the flu virus. This takes approximately two weeks after vaccination. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.
Does the vaccine work against COVID?
No. The flu vaccine only offers protection against the flu virus. You must have the COVID vaccines to avoid serious illness with COVID.
Is there a hybrid flu/COVID vaccine available in 2024?
Hybrid vaccines that would confer immunity against both flu and COVID have been in development at Moderna, Novavax, and other laboratories in recent years, though none are yet available to the public. The earliest one of these vaccines could be approved in Australia is 2025.
I had the COVID vaccine – can I get the flu vaccine?
Both vaccinations are strongly encouraged as both the COVID virus and the flu virus can cause very serious illnesses. These vaccines can be administered at the same time*
What are the benefits of flu vaccinations?
There are many reasons to get a flu vaccine each year. Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick from flu. Protecting yourself from flu also protects the people around you who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness. Flu vaccination can help protect people at greater risk of getting seriously ill from the flu, like older adults, people with chronic health conditions and young children (especially infants younger than 6 months old who are too young to get vaccinated).
Flu vaccination also may make your illness milder if you do get sick. Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of more serious flu outcomes, particularly, hospitalisations and death.
Is it safe for me to get the flu shot if I am pregnant?
Yes, the flu vaccine can be safely given during any stage of pregnancy. Pregnant women are at increased risk of severe disease or complications from the flu. Vaccinating against flu during pregnancy can not only protect pregnant women but provide ongoing protection to a newborn baby for the first six months after birth.
If in doubt, please speak to your doctor to confirm it’s safe to continue.
Should I receive the vaccine if I am feeling unwell?
If you are suffering from an acute feverish illness (temperature equal to or above 38.5 °C) you should not receive the vaccine until you have fully recovered. If you are suffering from a mild illness and do not have a fever, you can receive the flu vaccination.
If you are feeling unwell at the time of your vaccination appointment, please discuss your symptoms with the nurse.
If I get a side effect after I have a flu vaccine, where can I report it?
You can report vaccine reactions to your state or territory health service and also your doctor.
*ATAGI advice on the administration of seasonal influenza vaccines March 2023
Therapeutic Goods Administration https://www.tga.gov.au
Australian Gov Department of Health https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/immunisation/immunisation-services/influenza-flu-immunisation-service
World Health Organisation https://www.who.int/teams/global-influenza-programme/vaccines
Australia Immunisation Handbook https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/vaccine-preventable-diseases/influenza-flu
Healthdirect Australia https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/flu-vaccine-faqs
Fully certified, comprehensive service
Healthworks are a fully-certified and insured supplier of flu shots who provide end to end program management, a doctor on call for the immunisations team (in the occurrence of unforeseen circumstances), consent forms and at the end, a lollypop for every participant!
Whether your company is a single-site organisation or requires vaccinations to be administered across multiple sites nationally in Australia, we have the experience to manage your flu vaccination program.