All states and territories offering free flu shots

After two years of confinement and social distancing, the flu is back in force.

Laboratory-confirmed flu cases were among the worst rates on record in 2017, resulting in 29,000 hospitalizations and 745 deaths in Australia.

When the pandemic arrived, the flu all but disappeared as better hygiene measures were adopted and lockdowns limited population movement.

But now the easing of COVID restrictions means people are on the move, which has led to an increase in flu cases.

Now health authorities are pleading with Australians to get a flu shot to ease the mounting pressure on hospitals.

And in an effort to encourage people to do so, the vaccine is now offered free of charge. But its availability differs between states and territories.

Who offers the jab for free?

New South Wales will offer a “month-long blitz” of free flu shots beginning June 1 and ending June 30 for anyone over the age of six months.

Previously, vaccines were only available for free to certain high-risk groups, but Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said authorities were concerned about the sharp rise in infections.

Dr. Chant says this virus spreads easily.(AAP: Bianca De Marchi)

Queenslanders over six months old can get the flu shot free of charge until June 30.

The decision was announced last week after an early and intense outbreak of influenza A was detected across the state.

Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said she had taken the “unprecedented” decision to protect people amid low immunity rates.

Annastacia Palaszczuk in a blue jacket outside at a press conference.
Premier Palaszczuk said the state would face rising numbers if no action was taken.(PA: Jono Searle)

Western Australians over six months can get a free flu shot from June 1 to June 30.

The WA Department of Health’s “Free Jab June” initiative was announced by Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson on May 29.

“We are already making vaccinations free for our most vulnerable, but by extending this program throughout June, we are making the flu shot more easily available to everyone,” she said.

Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson in the lead
WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson says the jab is now available to everyone.(ABC News: Jessica Warriner)

All South Australians over six months old can get the flu shot free of charge until June 30.

In a statement, South African Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas said the free vaccines will be available under a program costing the state nearly $5 million.

Previously in South Africa, only certain groups of people, such as young children and people with medical risk factors, were eligible for free flu shots.

However, due to the unique circumstances, SA will be making flu shots free for all residents through June 30.

A man in a suit speaking with a round light shining above his head.
Premier Malinauskas said the vaccination will help ease pressure on hospitals across the state.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Last week, 171,000 Tasmanians have been vaccinated against the flu and the vaccine is free for anyone aged five and over, but only at community COVID and flu vaccination clinics.

The state government hopes that people who come for free flu shots will also get up to date with a COVID vaccine, as both are available in the same appointment.

Victoria, Northern Territory and the ACT

As it stands, the situation is different – ​​or changing – in Victoria, the Northern Territory and the ACT.

The Andrews government has yet to announce a free flu vaccination program, but there are strong signs that such a program may soon be revealed.

The Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association said it had been in talks with the Victorian government over the past week on a statewide scheme.

Victorian AMA President Roderick McCrae said he would put more pressure on the government if he did not announce a program by midweek.

A man in glasses and a blue suit in front of trees
The Victorian government has yet to announce a free flu vaccination program.(ABC News)

However, in the LAW and North territory you can only get a free flu shot if you are in a vulnerable group.

In the ACT, this means it is restricted to children aged six months to five years, pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of six months, and people older than six months with underlying medical conditions.

And in the North territory, it is free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, vulnerable people and young children.

But Australian Medical Association NT president Rob Parker said the territory should seek to follow the example of other regions and offer free flu shots to residents.

“Making it potentially free for everyone would encourage more people, so that would be the best thing [to do],” he said.

General practitioners, clinics or pharmacies? Where can I get the flu shot for free?

New South Wales Health is urging people to book at GPs and pharmacies to get the vaccine.

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