Protect your mob
Viruses like influenza (the flu), COVID-19 and pneumococcal pneumonia can be dangerous, but there are ways to protect yourself and your mob. After more than a year of social distancing and isolating, it’s more important than ever to take steps to protect yourself against vaccine preventable diseases this winter. Getting vaccinated, practicing good hygiene and staying home if you’re unwell will help keep you and your family strong and healthy this winter. Download our Vaccination Tracker and talk to your doctor or community healthcare worker about getting vaccinated to protect yourself and your mob.Download your Vaccination Tracker
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have been identified as a priority group for the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out program. This is because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at greater risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19, as well as developing more serious illness from the infection. The COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary, available to everyone in Australia and free. Just like the flu vaccine, it is important to get the COVID-19 vaccine to protect yourself and your mob.
When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Your age group will determine when you will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine rollout has already begun for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 55 years, while the timeframe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged between 18 – 54 has not yet been confirmed.
Where do I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
More details around the exact timeframe will be available from your local health worker, so check with them or visit the Department of Health’s website here.
There will be more than 2,000 sites across Australia where you can get the vaccine, including in rural and remote locations. The vaccines will be available at your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service, GP-led respiratory clinics, GP clinics, state and territory health services and pharmacies. The government’s COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker will show you locations near you that will be administering the vaccine, as well as provide details on how to book.
If you have more questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and when you will be eligible, visit our COVID-19 information hub here.
Reduce the spread
There are steps you and your family can take to reduce the spread of nasty bugs and viruses such as the flu, COVID-19 and even the common cold. Many of these practices have become second nature during the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing them as part of our day-to-day lives will help keep the community safe.
- Keep your distance: If you’re experiencing any cold or flu like symptoms it’s important to get a COVID-19 test and isolate until you receive a negative result. Even if you do test negative, if we all keep our distance when we’re feeling a bit under the weather, it can reduce the chance of spreading any virus or infection to our family and friends.
- Hand hygiene: Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser gel. If you’re out and about, avoid touching things in public spaces as much as possible and always wash your hands or use sanitiser after. Read more about hand hygiene, here.
- Face masks: Wearing a mask if you’re experiencing any cold or flu like symptoms can help to reduce the spread of nasty bugs and viruses – particularly in situations where maintaining social distance is difficult, such as public transport and busy shopping centres.
- Cleaning advice: Wipe down frequently touched surfaces regularly and any items brought into your home. Using detergent and water, followed by a disinfectant is the most effective way to reduce the spread of viruses. Read more cleaning tips, here.
COVID-19 vaccines common questions
Common questions and answers about the COVID-19 vaccines, specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, collated by The Australian Government Department of Health.Read more
Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and remote communities
Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on COVID-19, including how to protect yourself and your mob, by the Australian Government Department of Health.Learn more
Lung Health Checklist
It’s important to take care of your lungs. Symptoms of lung disease can creep up slowly. Sometimes you might change the way you do things rather than get help. Check out how healthy your lungs are too. Over the page are eight simple questions for you to answer. Encourage your mob to check in with their lungs too.
What is influenza (flu)?
While many of us refer to any cold or flu-like symptoms as ‘the flu’, influenza is a severe illness and for some, even fatal. The virus spreads from person-to-person by tiny drops produced during a cough or sneeze. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at greater risk of developing severe forms of the flu and are more likely to be admitted to hospital as a result, than other Australians. An annual flu vaccine is recommended for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to help stop the spread of the virus and keep communities well.
Flu symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Fever and chills
- Headache, muscle aches and joint pain
- Dry, chesty cough
- Nasal congestion and runny nose
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea.
Am I eligible for a free flu vaccine?
Under the National Immunisation Program (NIP), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over are eligible for a free flu vaccination.
When should I get a flu vaccine?
Ideal protection against the flu happens within the first three to four months after vaccination so it should be timed to achieve the highest level of protection during peak flu season, which is usually between June to September in most parts of Australia.
Vaccinating from April provides protection before peak flu season. Revaccination later in the same season for individuals who have already received the vaccine is not routinely recommended, but may benefit some individuals due to personal circumstances, such as travel or pregnancy. Discuss your individual circumstances with your doctor.
Why do I need the flu vaccine every year?
Flu viruses are constantly changing, so the vaccine is reviewed each year and updated as needed based on which flu viruses are making people sick, the extent to which those viruses are spreading, and how well the previous season's vaccine protects against those viruses.
What type of flu vaccine will I get?
There are seven types of flu vaccines registered and available for use in Australia in 2021. It is important to get the right vaccine for your age. Your immunisation provider can tell you which vaccine they will use for you, according to the Australian Immunisation Handbook and the NIP.
Will I get the flu from the vaccine?
All flu vaccines used in Australia are ‘inactivated’, which means they do not contain the live flu virus, so you can't catch the flu from the vaccine. Some people experience flu-like symptoms such as slight fever or pain at the injection site. They are usually mild and short-lived and are a sign the vaccine is triggering an immune response, which is what it’s designed to do. These reactions do not require special treatment or reporting. If you have concerns about a reaction that appears to be getting worse or does not fit the common reactions for that vaccine, seek medical attention.
Can I get the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine on the same day?
The recommended minimum gap between the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine is 14 days. Arrange to get your annual flu vaccine as soon as it’s available so you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to you. If you’re currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and haven’t received your flu vaccine, talk to your doctor about the timing and scheduling of receiving both this year.
What is pneumococcal pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a common and potentially fatal lung infection that can be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi. One of the most severe forms of pneumonia is pneumococcal pneumonia, which is caused by the bacterium, Streptococcus pneumoniae. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to be admitted to hospital for pneumonia than other Australians. A pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine is recommended for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over.
Symptoms of pneumonia include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain.
Am I eligible for a free pneumonia vaccine?
Under the National Immunisation Program, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people under the age of 50, who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk, including people living with specific types of chronic lung disease, are eligible for a free pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over are eligible for a free pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine under the program too.
Do I need the pneumonia vaccine every year?
Unlike the flu vaccine, the pneumonia vaccine isn’t required annually. A second dose is available to some Australians, a minimum of five years following their first dose. If you haven’t been vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia and you’re eligible under the NIP, talk to your doctor or community healthcare worker about when you should receive it.
About the artwork
We acknowledge Jordan Lovegrove, a Ngarrindjeri man of Dreamtime Creative, who has created this artwork for Lung Foundation Australia.
The artwork shows Lung Foundation Australia raising awareness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities about the need for immunisation to protect against influenza and pneumonia. The inner circle of the central meeting place represents Lung Foundation Australia raising awareness and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Our five strategic pillars are shown by the large people symbols outside the central meeting place. The smaller meeting places and journey lines show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities heading towards a community health centre to get immunised, which is represented by the middle and outer circles.
This artwork and the immunisation campaign were developed in partnership with Dreamtime Creative, who are proudly Supply Nation Registered.