Influenza (flu) is a common viral illness affecting people throughout the winter months (May to October).
It spreads easily to others through talking, coughing and sneezing. People are at risk of repeatedly catching influenza because the virus types or strains are always changing. The flu vaccine is an inactivated vaccine, which means it cannot give you the flu.
The Fight Flu website provides information and answers frequently asked questions about influenza.
Vaccination against flu
Vaccination against influenza is free for our most vulnerable people, including:
- All pregnant women (any trimester, in every pregnancy)
- Some children under 5 years who have been in hospital for breathing/respiratory illness or due to measles.
- Some people under 65 years of age with certain long term/chronic conditions, like heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, cancer, asthma and COPD
- All Māori & Pacific people aged 55-64 years
- All people aged 65 years and over
Vaccination is the best protection against the flu virus. Being vaccinated against the flu gives your body a head start on fighting the infection, as the anti-bodies your body makes after being vaccinated will recognise the virus much quicker and be able to effectively fight off infection. No vaccination is 100% protective, however even if you do get the flu, it will usually be much less severe, with fewer sick days and less likely to need hospital care.
As we have learned with COVID, viruses change, meaning that each year the flu virus can be different to the previous year, so you will need to let your body know of the changes with a new dose of vaccine so it can fight it effectively.
The flu vaccine is usually given between April and June. This is because there is a much higher chance of the virus circulating through the community during winter, so it is important to ensure you are protected just before the start of this season. For hapū/pregnant women, it is still very important to get your flu vaccine any time of the year, as influenza can be serious for both māmā and pēpē.
To find out more or to see if you are eligible for the flu vaccine – talk to your doctor today.