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How do flu vaccines work?

How do flu vaccines work?
Photo: How do flu vaccines work?
How do flu vaccines work?

Influenza vaccines work by stimulating the development of antibodies in our bodies.  Approximately 2 weeks after administration of the flu vaccine, these antibodies develop and start to provide protection against influenza virus infection.

What are the types of flu vaccines?

Traditional flu vaccines, called trivalent vaccines, provide protection again the influenza A (H1N1) virus, influenza A (H3N2) virus and an influenza B virus.

More recently quadrivalent influenza vaccines (QIV's) have become available and these provide protection against the three virus strains protected by trivalent vaccines, but also protect against an additional influenza B virus strain.
In December 2014 the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved the Sanofi Pasteur FluQuadri and FluQuadri junior vaccines and is now available on private prescription.

Sydney based GP Dr Ginni Mansberg has said that "The availability of quadrivalent influenza vaccines provide us with another option in safeguarding against the flu.

Why are influenza vaccines important?

It is estimated that every year, flu causes an average of over 18,000 hospitalisations and between 1,500 and 3,500 deaths in Australia from complications such as pneumonia and secondary bacterial infections.  Influenza B strains cause influenza epidemics every two to four years which underscores the importance of protecting against influenza B strains.

professor John Upham, Princess Alexandra Hospital Respiratory Physician and Researcher for University of Queensland Lung and Allergy Research Centre has said that "flu season is one of the key times we see people develop more serious respiratory illnesses and pneumonia, which can arise as complications of the flu.  Generally there is a greater chance for at high risk groups but healty people can also develop complications of flu, making vaccination important for all."

For more information about vaccinations, visit


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