Immunisation is the best protection from influenza, and the best way to prevent its spread.

The 2024 flu vaccine is free for some people, including:

  • people aged 65 years and over
  • people who have a long-term medical condition like diabetes, asthma, or a heart condition (ages 6 months and older)
  • pregnant people
  • children aged 4 years and under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness
  • people with mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizoaffective disorder
  • people who are currently accessing secondary or tertiary mental health and addiction services.

Influenza is a potentially serious viral infection that’s much worse than a cold. Influenza comes on suddenly with a fever or chills, sore throat, dry cough, headaches, fatigue, body aches and pains. Most people recover uneventfully after an unpleasant week or so, but a few will develop complications such as pneumonia.

Influenza is easily spread and anyone can catch it. It is passed on by droplets when people cough and sneeze and touch infected surfaces.


To protect yourself and your family from influenza:

  • Get the influenza vaccination from your nurse or doctor, even if you are fit and healthy
  • Cover your cough when coughing or sneezing and then wash your hands
  • Always use disposable tissues and stay at home when you are sick
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds, and dry your hands with a clean dry towel or paper towel for 20 seconds
  • Keep your home warm and dry to stay healthy during the colder months


Book a flu vaccine

Flu vaccines are available from your doctor, nurse, or healthcare provider. Everyone over 3 years old can get a flu vaccine at many pharmacies.

Flu vaccines for an individual, or a group, can also be booked online through Book My Vaccine.

Pharmacies offering flu vaccines – Health Point

Chat to the disability team

Like many employers, Health NZ Bay of Plenty and Health NZ Lakes offer free flu immunisation for staff.


If you or your family members are unwell:

  • Help prevent the spread of colds, influenza and other winter illnesses to others – stay at home, and away from work or school until you are feeling better.
  • Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette. This means covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or coughing or sneezing into your elbow.
  • Remember free health advice from a registered nurse is just a phone call away – phone Healthline on 0800 611 116


Watch Mark's influenza story

More information