Premier at Barden Ridge childcare centre to announce free flu jabs for young children

Children between six months and five years old will be eligible for free flu jabs this year, under an influenza vaccination program to be offered by the state government.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced the initiative at Barden Ridge childcare centre, Little Kids Academy.

Ms Berejiklian said the program, which would cost $3.5 million, would target more than 400,000 children.

Mr Hazzard said NSW childhood vaccination rates had increased by 6.3 per cent since 2010, to 93.9 per cent in 2017.

“We already have the some of the best childhood vaccination rates in the country and this free flu jab will go even further to protect our little ones from potentially deadly flu infections,” he said.

“Infants and young children are most likely to spread the flu and suffer complications – not only will the free flu jab help keep them safe during winter, but it will also protect their family and friends.”

Mr Hazzard said children who had never had a flu vaccination would need two doses, one month apart.

The vaccine would cover four strains of influenza virus, two A strains and two B strains, likely to be circulating this winter.

Mr Hazzard said last year’s flu season was the most severe in NSW since the 2009 pandemic.

There were more than 12,000 confirmed cases of influenza in children under five last year, with many more likely to not to have been tested.

By immunising younger children, those more vulnerable in the community will also be protected, including babies too young to receive a flu vaccine.

The federal government currently provides free flu vaccinations to Aboriginal children, those with chronic illnesses and people aged over 65.

Information about the new program will be distributed to GPs.