Winter is coming. So are flu jabs.

Health experts are warning that the re-opening of WA’s border and lower exposure to the influenza virus could lead to a surge in flu cases this year.

As the flu season looms, the WA Primary Health Alliance’s Practice Assist program is urging health providers to consider piggy-backing flu jabs onto COVID booster appointments.

The WA Health Department is also running an influenza vaccination update later this month, ahead of the program rolling out in April.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation recently released its advice for vaccination providers, stating that flu vaccines can be administered on the same day as a COVID vaccine.

Do you want fries (or a flu jab) with that?

WAPHA says that subject to the availability of flu vaccines, giving a COVID booster vaccine could be a prompt for flu vaccination as well.

Vaccination against the flu is considered even more important this year because over the COVID period there has been lower exposure to the influenza virus and lower levels of flu vaccine coverage compared to previous years.

With borders reopening earlier this month, experts are on alert for a possible resurgence of the flu in 2022.

We know the highest level of protection occurs in the first 3 to 4 months following vaccination. Annual vaccination should ideally occur before the start of each influenza season. This is usually from June to September in most parts of Australia but may be different this year.

Vaccinating from April provides protection before the peak season.

Who can get free flu jabs this year?
Those eligible for influenza vaccines through the National Immunisation Program remains unchanged for 2022 and includes:

  • children aged 6 months to under 5 years
  • adults aged 65 years and over
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
  • pregnant women
  • people aged 6 months and over with medical conditions which increase the risk of complications.

The WA State Program also provides influenza vaccinations to children aged 5 years to Year 6.

The other change this year is that Flucelvax Quad, Australia’s only cell-based influenza vaccine, is now approved for children aged two and over. Last year it was only available for those aged nine and over.

The Communicable Disease Control Directorate Immunisation Program is inviting all WA immunisation providers to attend its influenza update on Wednesday March 23 from 8:30-11am.

Register here for the WA Department of Health 2022 Influenza Update webinar.

PPE roll-out
Meanwhile, WAPHA says it has been working to fulfil all PPE orders since the arrival last month of supplies from the National Medical Stockpile.
Over the past two weeks, it has processed and dispatched more than 400,000 pieces of PPE to more than 500 organisations. It aims to dispatch supplies within two weeks of getting orders.
But it says mask allocation and supply chain distribution are still subject to change based on COVID cases across Australia.