ABORIGINIES and pregnant women will receive free access to the flu vaccine, federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said today.
The Federal Government announced an expansion of the free vaccine program for vulnerable Australians as swine flu continues to spread.
The seasonal vaccine will be available to more than two million extra Australians.
Previously only about 2.8 million people aged 65 and over were eligible for the vaccine.
"Today we are announcing that the seasonal flu vaccine will be available free of charge to more han two million extra Australians, particularly pregnant women and indigenous Australians,'' Ms Roxon told Channel 9.
"I think this whole situation with swine flu is reminding us that influenza is a serious disease.
"Most people will get it quite mildly but there are people that are vulnerable in our community and we need to protect against the harm that might be caused, particularly for those people.''
Ms Roxon said the Government decided to extend the vaccine program on medical advice.
It was possible that there would be a combined vaccine for both seasonal and swine flu next year, she said.
"It's really too early for us to know, but obviously if there was, this extension would benefit more than an additional two million people, bringing it up to about four-and-a-half million who get protection through that free vaccine program.''