Australia’s flu season is set to coincide with the roll-out of the COVID-19 Vaccine which means Australians are being reminded not to become complacent and to make flu vaccinations a priority along with the coronavirus vaccine.

With the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine ready to go, Australia is on track to begin rolling out the COVID-19 Vaccination Program from 22 February.

Getting the seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to prevent yourself from getting the flu and from then passing it on to someone else in the community, this will help reduce the strain on the healthcare system amid the ongoing pandemic.

However, pharmacists are urging people to follow essential guidelines set out by the TGA.

TerryWhite Chemmart Chief Pharmacist Brenton Hart said the key message for Australians when scheduling their flu and COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021 is to allow at least 14 days between each one as recommended by the TGA and Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.   

“People should not be lulled into a false sense of complacency about the influenza virus. It is highly infectious, and it is important for people to continue getting vaccinated and to plan now so they can be vaccinated for both the flu and COVID-19 in a timely manner,” said Mr Hart.

“In all cases, the flu vaccination should be given at least 14 days apart from any dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Phase 1a of the COVID-19 Vaccination Program will include quarantine, border and frontline health care workers as well as aged care staff and residents, they will receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Most other Australians will likely receive the TGA approved AstraZeneca/University of Oxford vaccine.

TerryWhite Chemmart Pharmacist, Chris Campbell said it is important to remember when planning the timing of their vaccinations that both COVID-19 vaccinations require two injections given four to 12 weeks apart.

“If you immunise the population for COVID-19 and we reach the 80 per cent herd immunity the government is looking to, we’ll see restrictions ease and if we’re not looking at other vaccine preventable diseases then you could be at risk of contracting influenza,” Mr Campbell said.

“Which is one of the reasons the government is focused on protecting the community against both viruses.”

Chris Campbell’s full interview with NIRS.

Flu vaccinations will be available from 15 March across TerryWhite Chemmart locations.