BALLARAT residents are being reminded to think about getting the swine flu vaccine ahead of winter and not forget about the risks during the warmer months. Ballarat Health Services is encouraging people to prepare now and vaccinate themselves and their children against swine flu, or H1NI."Getting vaccinated now will give families and and individuals important piece of mind, and guard against preventable illness," BHS medical services executive director Dr John Gallichio said. The vaccine is free and available from general practitioners. It is particularly recommended for people with chronic diseases, pregnant women and Indigenous Australians. Ballarat Group Practice nurse Deb Hankin said demand for the vaccine had been strong. She said it was also recommended for people travelling overseas as airports were prime places to pick up influenza. Ballarat Group Practice's Dr John Emmanuel said people who continued to get the vaccine boosted their immunity. "Those patients who receive a seasonal influenza vaccine get a very strong immunity to it in the long run," he said. The peak time for influenza is around Easter, Dr Emmanuel said. The Ballarat & District Division of General Practice has also joined the call for people to take advantage of the vaccine being available for free. The organisation advised parents and carers of infants to receive the vaccine to reduce the risk to babies too young to be vaccinated.