The first flu vaccine ahead of the frosty winter season is being rolled out to senior Australians 65 and older within the coming weeks.

To get ahead of the curve and relieve stress on the already stretched thin health system thanks to COVID-19, older Australians aged 65 and up will get the first opportunity to take the shot.

The flu vaccine, named Fluad Quad, was created specifically for senior adults who have weaker immune systems due to age.

The new vaccine comes after flu clinics recorded a huge surge in people getting flu shots – much higher than last season.

“(Pharmacist) flu clinics, which have just started in the last couple of weeks, have been fully booked out,” Pharmaceutical Society of Australia president Chris Freeman told AAP.

“I think the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened that awareness for everybody.”

Michael Woodward, Health professional for Austin Health has said while COVID-19 has proven to be fatal, this year is the worst one to get the flu.

“While the flu vaccine does not protect against the COVID-19 virus, immunising against the flu … may help to reduce the risk of diagnostic uncertainty between flu and COVID-19.”

Professor Woodward says taking extra precaution to protect against the flu may also help to reduce pressure on the health system and intensive care units.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has urged Australians to get their flu shots earlier than they usually would.

This article originally appeared on Over60.