ACT takes action with free flu funding for kids

Child Coughing Cold Flu

The ACT Government is the latest to offer a free flu vaccine to under-fives ahead of the looming flu season.

Around 25,000 ACT children aged six months to five years will be eligible for the free flu vaccination under the new program.

The territory's Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Meegan Fitzharris, says the vaccinations will be available from GPs or one of the 10 ACT maternal and child health immunisation clinics.

“While we would have preferred to see the Federal Government step up to the plate and put this on the National Immunisation Program, the ACT will take action and join other states — including Victoria, NSW and Queensland — in offering the vaccination for free to young children,” she says.

Last year, two out of every 100 children aged under five were notified to ACT Health with influenza.

“We are focusing on children under five as they are at an increased risk of flu-related complications, including middle-ear infection, pneumonia and seizures,” she added.

The announcement came as figures were released this week showing that Australia’s overall childhood immunisation rates had fallen over the past nine years.

The proportion of two-year-olds who had been fully immunised fell from 92.7% in 2008 to 90.5% in December 2017, according to a report from the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth , a five-year snapshot of child health and wellbeing.