Australians aged 65 and over will have access to free influenza vaccinations from today, with the flu season just around the corner.
The annual free flu vaccination was officially launched by the Minister for Ageing, Justine Elliot and the Ambassador for ageing, Ms Noeline Brown.
Mrs Elliot urged older Australians to get the free influenza shots to protect themselves from the potentially life-threatening winter illness.
“Most healthy adults will recover from influenza within a few days without any complications,” she said.
“However, some people, especially those aged 65 and over, and people with certain chronic medical conditions, can suffer complications.
“This can include pneumonia requiring hospitalisation, and even death.”
Typical symptoms of influenza include fever, coughing, sore throats, fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, runny noses and watery eyes.
On average between 1997- 2006, 2,758 Australians died each year from influenza and pneumonia.
The Federal Government will spend more than $28.8 million on influenza and related programs in 2008-09.
The flu season usually runs from April until October.
In 2008, there were 9,129 cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza diagnosed and reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System.
This is slightly less than in 2007, where there were 10,403 cases.