Influenza, “the flu”, can be anywhere. It is easy to catch through coughs and sneezes. Influenza is much worse than a cold. Symptoms include fever, chills, aches, runny nose, a cough and stomach upset. Immunisation is your best defence against the flu.

What is influenza (flu)?

Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a serious viral illness that is sometimes fatal. Anyone can catch it, no matter how fit, active and healthy they may be.

Flu can cause any or all of these symptoms: fever, muscle aches, headache, lack of energy, dry cough, sore throat, and possibly a runny nose. The fever and body aches can last 3-5 days and the cough and lack of energy may last for 2 or more weeks.

You can stop the spread of flu

  1. Getting an annual flu vaccine is the best way for you to stop flu spreading. Contact your GP or local pharmacy today.
  2. If you’re unwell, stay at home until you are better.
  3. Follow basic hygiene practices:
    • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds and dry them for 20 seconds - or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze OR if you don’t have a tissue then cough or sneeze into your elbow
    • Wash your hands after blowing your nose or coughing
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
    • Don’t share drinks
    • Avoid crowded places or wear a mask


  • Flu vaccination is FREE for people 65 years old and over
  • Flu vaccination is FREE for Māori and Pasifika people 55 years old and over
  • Flu vaccination is FREE for women who are pregnant
  • Flu vaccination is FREE for anybody aged 6 months and over with diabetes, most heart or lung conditions and some other illnesses
  • Encourage your whānau who can get a free flu vaccination to see their doctor or nurse
  • Being fit and healthy won’t stop you getting the flu
  • You can get your COVID-19 vaccine or booster when you get your flu jab
  • You can’t get flu from the vaccine
  • You need to get a flu shot every year before winter for best protection
  • Info about timings of flu shots and COVID vaccines here.


Flutracking is an online health surveillance system used to detect the potential spread of influenza. By taking part, you’ll not only be contributing to scientific research, you will be helping to track influenza in your local community and nation-wide! Visit to sign up.

Related websites


Further information

Last updated 7 April 2022.