FREE flu jabs for people aged 65-plus

Did you know that if you’re over the age of 65, you can get the influenza vaccine for free?

Every year around 500 New Zealanders die from influenza. Older people – and those with existing health conditions, such as asthma, emphysema, or diabetes – are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill if they become infected. As the influenza virus often changes year-on-year, health professionals recommend that people aged over 65 get a flu jab every year.

This year, the Pharmaceutical Management Agency (PHARMAC) is funding a vaccine specifically made for people aged 65 and over – called Fluad Quad. You can be immunised for free against influenza from now through to the end of the year (31 December) at your local general practice or at a community pharmacy.  

The vaccine provides the best protection against flu; although, like any medicine, it cannot provide 100% protection. Some people may experience mild side effects, such as swelling or redness around the injection site, muscle aches or headaches, a general feeling of tiredness or a fever. Don’t be concerned; side effects like these are perfectly normal and is evidence that the vaccine has started activating the immune system. Please be assured: the vaccine cannot give you the flu.

Allergic reactions to the vaccine are rare but they can happen. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to a flu jab in the past, seek advice from your doctor before getting vaccinated. If you are feeling unwell and have flu-like symptoms – such as a fever – it’s a good idea to postpone getting your vaccine; speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.

You need two weeks between receiving the flu jab and getting your COVID vaccine.

With the Covid-19 vaccine rollout also underway, if you’re over 65 and older or have underlying health conditions, you will be able to receive your Pfizer vaccine from May 2021 too – learn more about the Covid-19 vaccine here.

It’s important to understand that you need two weeks between getting the flu jab and getting your Covid vaccine. Having a gap between different types of vaccinations helps authorities be sure about any side effects that may occur.

This means:

  • If you already have an appointment for your Covid-19 vaccination, get this first. You can have your flu immunisation two weeks or more after your second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
  • If you don’t have an appointment booked for your Covid-19 vaccination, you can get your influenza immunisation first.

For more information about the influenza vaccination, visit The Ministry of Health’s website: https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/influenza

Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

About Mason Head

Mason Head
Content Creator and Publication Lead at Eldernet

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