What is the flu?
Influenza (flu) is a contagious illness of the respiratory tract caused by influenza viruses. It can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications. Influenza is spread by contact with respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
What are the signs and symptoms of the flu?
Symptoms usually start about 1 to 3 days after catching the flu and can last for a week or more. Some people can be mildly affected, while others can become seriously ill.
The most common symptoms of the flu include:
- Runny nose or sneezing
- Cough or sore throat
- Fever and chills
- Body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhoea (more common in children).
Who should get a flu vaccination?
The Australian Government recommends everyone over the age of 6 months old get a flu vaccination, so almost everyone should get it. People who are at higher risk than others:
People over 65 years
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin adults over 15 years
People with weakened immune systems or chronic health conditions
People who are obese
People who smoke
People who haven’t been vaccinated against the flu
Pharmacists giving advice on Flu Vaccination services
People with certain underlying health conditions are at greater risk of health complications from the flu.
COPD and other lung conditions
Diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2
Impaired immunity such as HIV infection
Chronic neurological disorders
A flu vaccine is also recommended for residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; along with primary carers of children, seniors and other people.
How does the flu vaccine help?
Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from serious disease caused by influenza. By getting vaccinated against influenza, you can also help protect other people, especially people who are too sick or too young to be vaccinated. The more people who are vaccinated in your community, the less likely the disease will spread.
Annual immunisation is recommended as the influenza virus is constantly changing, and the vaccine changes accordingly.
As well as vaccination, it is important to continue practicing good hand hygiene, covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and staying home when you are unwell to minimise the spread of the flu.
Three things you may not have known about flu vaccination
There is no live virus in the flu vaccine, so you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine
The composition of the flu vaccine changes every year to keep up with the constantly changing flu virus. This year, we are offering the quadrivalent flu vaccine, which protects against four of the most common strains
The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women at all stages of their pregnancy