Free Flu Jab for Every Queenslander 17 July

  • Queenslanders of all ages will now have access to free influenza vaccinations.
  • Pharmacies and GPs will offer vaccinations from 22 July – 31 August throughout the state

The Palaszczuk Government has announced today that all Queenslanders will be offered a free flu vaccination, amid a spike in influenza cases across the state.

Free influenza vaccinations will be available from 22 July to 31 August at GPs and pharmacies across Queensland.

The Palaszczuk Government will cover the cost, which is estimated to cost between $5 – 10 million, for providing the vaccination to all Queenslanders, many of whom do not fall within the federally funded national immunisation program.

Influenza cases this year have reached more than 51,426 cases, compared to last year where 44,438 cases were record for the entire year.

Influenza B is causing severe disease in some children. Since 1 July, 78 children aged 6 months to four years old were hospitalised with flu – 50 with the B strain, and only 1 of these children were vaccinated.

The Health Minister today met with professional pharmacy and medical bodies to ensure all bodies could work together to help roll out the free program.

There are no changes for people already eligible under the National Immunisation program. People eligible under the National Immunisation Program should continue to access influenza vaccine from their usual vaccination providers.

Anyone who has their vaccination booked before Saturday will also receive it for free.

Quotes attributable to the Premier:

“Health experts have told us that this strain of Influenza B is particularly severe, and that vaccination rates in Queensland are low.

“I don’t want there to be any barriers to getting the flu jab, which is why I am reinstating free flu vaccinations for all Queenslanders.

“We know the cost of living is a real concern right now, and this will fill the gap for people who don’t qualify for a free vaccination under the federally run national immunisation program.

“Everyone is susceptible to the flu, and the best way for Queenslanders to protect themselves, their families, and the community is to get vaccinated.”

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Health, Shannon Fentiman:

“Today I convened a meeting with key health experts and community stakeholders and the message was clear – we need to make the flu vaccine as accessible as possible.

“Influenza can be deadly – this month – 78 children aged 6 months to 4 years old have been hospitalised this month and only 1 was vaccinated.

“Alarmingly, around half of the people who have been hospitalised with influenza B this flu season, are under the age of 20.

“We know children are some of the most at risk in our community, so we’ll be working with those health sector experts and the Education Department to make sure we capture the attention of as many families as possible and keep as many kids safe as we can.

“Ideally we want to see the flu vaccination be free for everyone, every year, as part of the national immunisation program, and I’ll be raising this with my state and federal counterparts at the national health minister meeting later this week.

“We also need to see a greater advertising and awareness program as part of the national immunisation program, so people know to get vaccinated.”

Quotes attributable to Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard:

“I am very concerned about the increase in influenza B cases and the high rate of unvaccinated patients, particularly with school recently resuming and the peak of winter approaching.

“Influenza B is now the dominant strain and causing severe illness in otherwise healthy Queenslanders, particularly young people.

“Queensland has recorded 15,039 influenza B cases in 2023. The last outbreak of the B strain was in 2019 when 12,950 cases were reported.

“There have been three times more hospital admissions for influenza B than influenza A in children aged less than five years.

“Influenza B is known to be associated with more severe disease in children, many of whom would never have been exposed to influenza because of COVID-19 restrictions over the past three years.

“It is equally as important for pregnant women to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their babies.

“My message is simple: if you or your children have not been vaccinated against flu, I urge you to please book in with your GP or pharmacist to do so.”

/Public Release. View in full here.