Free stronger flu vaccine for older Australians after last year's deadly flu season

After so many lives were taken by the flu last year, the government has introduced an 'enhanced' flu vaccine free for high-risk patients.

By Bettina Tyrrell

Older Australians will be given free, stronger flu vaccinations by the federal government in an effort to prevent another deadly flu season.

More than 1,100 people across Australia died from the flu last year, with most of them (90 per cent) over the age of 65.

"It was a horror flu season last year, a mutation in the flu strain, that led to some tragedies with seniors," federal health minister, Greg Hunt, told the Nine Network.

The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, believes the new "enhanced" vaccines will be more effective than last year's vaccine, but stresses that no flue vaccine gives complete protection. "The standard vaccine seems to protect well in younger people, but we are confident this will give better protection for the elderly," he said.

New 'enhanced' flu vaccines generate strong immune response in the elderly

There will be two new vaccines (Fluad and Fluzone High Dose), both available from April. These vaccines are specifically targeted at the strains, in particular the mutation, that took so many lives last year.

These new vaccines work in over 65s by generating a strong immune response and are more effective for this age group in protecting against influenza.

In addition to the new vaccines the ABC reports the Aged Care Quality Agency is reviewing infection control practices of aged care services across the country in an effort to protect the elderly from seasonal influenza.