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Tasmanians are now eligible for free flu shot ahead of the 2023 flu season

Tasmanians are now eligible for free flu shot ahead of the 2023 flu season

We are urging Tasmanians to act now and make the most of free influenza vaccinations, with flu cases presenting early due to increased international travel and predicted to surge in the coming winter season.

“Getting a flu shot is your single best protection against catching the flu virus, and getting seriously ill from associated complications,” says St.LukesHealth Chief Operating Officer, Darren Harris.

Under the National Immunisation Program, free influenza vaccines are provided to some groups at a higher risk of flu-related complications. For those who aren’t covered by the Program, Tasmania’s leading not-for-profit health insurer St.LukesHealth is partnering again with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia to make vaccinations free for members with Extras cover.

“The flu shot is important to the health and wellbeing of Tasmanians, so we want to make it as easy as possible for our members to get their flu shots, for free.” says Mr Harris.

It’s especially important for Tasmanians aged 65 years and older, children aged 6 months to 5 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, pregnant women or people with medical conditions placing them at-risk of severe influenza complications to get the flu shot.

The Cancer Council says cancer patients have a higher risk of complications if they catch the flu. “If you have or have had cancer your doctor may recommend getting both the flu shot and the pneumococcal vaccination,” says Cancer Council Tasmania Acting CEO, Abby Smith. “If it has been recommended for you, it is important for you to get the vaccination to protect yourself.

“If you cannot get the flu vaccination, encourage family and friends you are interacting with to get vaccinated, as this will avoid them passing the infection on to you, which can put you at higher risk of serious illness if you are immunocompromised.”

Pharmacy Guild of Tasmania President Helen O’Byrne says this year’s flu vaccines are now readily available at pharmacies or GP clinics across Tasmanian communities.

“As pharmacists we understand that over the last couple of years due to lockdowns and border closures not a lot of flu has been circulating and many people have not received their usual seasonal influenza vaccination which places them and the broader community at risk,” says Ms O’Byrne.

“Where people have contracted COVID-19 their immune systems may be weakened - influenza vaccines will help with the immune response against infection. Flu vaccines, like COVID-19 vaccines, do not guarantee that a person will not get the virus but certainly reduce the risk of serious illness.”

“Covid is still circulating, so make sure you get your free Covid boosters - your local pharmacy can help you determine your eligibility, and both influenza and Covid vaccines can be given at the same time.”

Mr Harris says the flu shot is an easy measure everyone can take that has big consequences for their health, and the healthcare system. With local case numbers typically three to four weeks behind the mainland, it’s important Tasmanians act now and get vaccinated.

“We each have the power to do this one small thing – just get vaccinated – and avoid ending up in hospital with complications that could so easily be prevented.”

How to claim
People can check their eligibility for the free National Immunisation Program (NIP) Schedule, and St.LukesHealth vaccination benefit.

In partnership with the Pharmacy Guild of Tasmania, St.LukesHealth members can visit our website  to make an appointment at a participating pharmacy. They simply present their St.LukesHealth card to receive their free vaccination, no payment or claim needed. Pharmacists can administer flu vaccinations to people aged 5 and over.