Uppers arms at the ready — 2021 is the year of the vaccination (apologies to those of you with a phobia of needles). The COVID vaccination rollout is slowly inching towards the rest of the population — average people like you and me. And as it inches forward, so does the time to get the flu vaccine. So what are the rules about getting these vaccines this year?
Don’t worry, for the sake of you — and your upper arm — we’re here to break it down.
When can I get my COVID vaccine?
So far, the rollout is available to people in phase 1a and 1b — frontline workers across quarantine, border and health; aged care and disability care staff; elderly adults 70 years and older; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island adults over 55; healthcare workers; adults with specific medical conditions; critical and high-risk workers.
The next phase is 2a, for adults 50+ and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults not covered by the previous category. 2b is the one the majority of Australians fall into. If you’re not quite sure what category you fall into, there is a vaccine eligibility checker.
What vaccine will I receive?
The majority of Australians will be receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Although complications arose in the distribution of the vaccine, including instances of blood clotting in Europe and allergic reactions in Australia, the latest study from the company found it is 79% effective overall at preventing symptomatic cases of COVID-19.
The long-anticipated study out of the US moves AstraZeneca a step closer to clearance for American use, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
When should I get a flu vaccine?
According to a release from the National Immunisation Program, influenza vaccines will become available for the health sector in April 2021.
As for the timing around it, the Australian Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) can help you there. As with all vaccines, there should be a 14-day interval. So no, you can’t get your COVID vaccination and flu vaccination on the same day — they need to be spaced out by two weeks.
If you’re wondering what order it should be in? That depends on what phase you’re a part of. If you’re in the earlier phases of the COVID vaccine, you should receive that first — then the influenza vaccine.
In a later phase? Receive the flu vaccination as soon as it’s available, then get the COVID vaccine.
Just try to make it before the start of influenza season (which peaks from June to September).
Who should get the flu vaccine?
ATAGI recommends everyone over the age of six months get the annual flu vaccine as “It is the most important measure to prevent influenza and its complications” — so, pretty much everyone. This includes pregnant women, at any stage of pregnancy.
Optimal protection against the flu occurs in the first three to four months after vaccination and is generally expected to last throughout the year.