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

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

Flu vaccine is available and free for those with higher risk of serious illness (that is, everyone aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, and adults or children with certain long term or serious medical conditions) so call your GP or health centre to arrange an immunisation appointment.

Hand hygiene is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways of reducing the spread of colds, influenza and other winter illnesses.

  • wash hands thoroughly with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds;
  • dry 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

  • Stay warm and dry, and keep your home well ventilated and heated.

Health risks

Expand accordion

Influenza can affect anyone, causing symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches and pains - and sometimes also vomiting. Most people recover uneventfully after an unpleasant week or so, but a few will develop complications such as pneumonia. 

What can you do?

Expand accordion
  • 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 and dry your hands with a clean dry towel or paper towel

Free immunisation is available now for those most at risk of influenza complications.

  • children aged 6 months to 12 years old
  • pregnant people
  • Māori and Pacific people over 55
  • people aged 65 and over
  • people with underlying health conditions including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and serious asthma
  • people with significant mental illness such as schizophrenia or those currently accessing mental health services.

Book flu immunisations for yourself, someone else, or a group with Book My Vaccine.

Like many employers, the Te Whatu Ora Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty and Te Whatu Ora Lakes offer free immunisation for all of their health workers.

Or for more information contact your doctor or practice nurse, visit the Immunisation Advisory Centre website or phone 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).

If you or your family members are unwell

Expand accordion

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


Expand accordion

Watch the video - Flu shot best protection