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Home News and stories Does getting the flu vaccine help reduce your risk of dementia?

Does getting the flu vaccine help reduce your risk of dementia?

Avoiding severe flu in middle-age may protect future brain health.

Senior woman with flu symptom sore throat

Influenza (also called flu) is a very contagious viral infection of the airways. It affects people of all ages but is especially serious for older people as well as young children and babies, pregnant women, and people with underlying medical conditions such as dementia. Influenza can require hospitalisation and can even cause death.

Influenza and future brain health

A large population-based study found that avoiding severe flu in middle-age may protect future brain health. In the study, people who had been hospitalized for flu, with or without pneumonia, were two- to sevenfold more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, all-cause dementia, vascular dementia, Parkinson’s dementia or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The researchers believe that vaccination against viral illnesses can protect against neurodegenerative diseases.

Flu vaccine

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from serious disease caused by influenza. Influenza vaccines are given each year to protect against the most common strains of the virus.

Who can get the flu vaccine?

The influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and over. It not only protects you, but also protects those around you. It is FREE under the National Immunisation Program for:

In some states and territories, influenza vaccines may also be provided for free to other people not listed above. Speak to your GP or contact your state or territory Department of Health to find out.

People who are not eligible for a free vaccine can purchase the vaccine from their vaccination provider.

Note that aged care and other health workers may be required to get an influenza vaccine as part of their conditions of employment.

When should I get the flu vaccine?

Annual influenza vaccine should occur anytime from April onwards to be protected for the peak flu season, which is generally June to September. The highest level of protection occurs in the first 3 to 4 months following vaccination. However, it is never too late to vaccinate since influenza can circulate in the community all year round.

Influenza vaccines can be given on the same day with a COVID-19 vaccine. There is no set timeframe to wait between having a COVID-19 infection and then having the influenza vaccine.

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