Seasonal flu vaccines are available from April or May each year. You can be vaccinated at your GP surgery. Some workplaces offer 'flu vaccines and some pharmacies now offer 'flu vaccination.
Vaccination either prevents or reduces the severity of 'flu, and prevents you from passing the virus on to other people. Flu is a serious illness for elderly, infants, people with long term health conditions and pregnant women.
In New Zealand there are a number of groups of people who will receive the 'flu vaccine free of charge. In 2017 the list included:
- Pregnant women (any time)
- Anyone aged 65 years or over
- Anyone under 65 years with any of the medical conditions listed on the Influenza NZ website
If you would like to learn more about 'flu vaccinations please visit Fight Flu
How do I know if I have 'flu?
- fever (a temperature of 38°C or higher)
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- body aches
- stomach upset, vomiting or diarrhoea.
It may take between 1–4 days to feel symptoms after you catch influenza.
The worst symptoms usually last about 5 days, but coughing can last up to 2–3 weeks.
When should I seek medical advice if I think I have the 'flu?
Seek urgent medical advice if you have:
- a high fever that doesn’t come down, especially if you are pregnant
- chills or severe shaking
- difficulty breathing or chest pain
- purple or bluish discolouration of lips, skin, fingers or toes
- seizures or convulsions (fits)
- signs of other serious conditions, such as meningococcal disease(which may include severe headache, sleepiness, vomiting, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, and sometimes a rash).
I think my child has 'flu, when should I call the doctor?
Call a doctor if your baby or child’s breathing is fast or noisy or if they are wheezing or grunting. Check if the area below the ribs sucks inward (instead of expanding as normal) as they breathe in.
You should get help if your baby or child is:
- very pale
- drowsy or difficult to wake
- severely irritable, not wanting to be held
- limp or unable to move
- if a baby has dry nappies or no tears when they are crying, it means they are dehydrated. It is important to contact a doctor
- if they have signs of other serious conditions, such as meningococcal disease (which may include severe headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, and sometimes a rash, but in very young children are often non-specific such as sleepiness and vomiting).
If you have any worries about yourself or someone you are caring for, call Healthline (0800 611 116) for advice or see a doctor, even if you have called or been seen before.