Influenza (the flu) is an infectious illness that spreads very easily from person to person. Influenza is not just a 'bad cold' - it is a more serious illness that may lead to hospitalisation, complications and even death. Influenza is more common during the winter months. Influenza arrived early in North America and Europe this season and it could arrive as early as autumn here too.
Don't get it, don't give it - Get immunised to protect against influenza
Having an influenza immunisation each year is the best protection against influenza.
Get protected as soon as possible, because it takes around two weeks to develop immunity after immunisation. Vaccine is usually available from March each year.
Immunisation helps protect the person being vaccinated, and also means they are less likely to pass influenza on to others.
Anyone over the age of 6 months can be vaccinated. Ask your GP or practice nurse about flu vaccination.
- People aged 65 years or over
Influenza vaccine is free until 31 July for people in high risk groups:
- People under 65 years with certain medical conditions
- Pregnant women
- Children aged 4 and under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness (as assessed by their GP).
Influenza fact sheet
Auckland Regional Public Health Service has produced a fact sheet about influenza
Ministry of Health web pages about influenza
There is a lot of useful information about influenza on the Ministry of Health website, including:
A summary page with general information about influenza.
Symptoms of influenza, the difference between influenza and a cold, high risk groups, and danger signs for adults, young children and babies.
Treatment, caring for yourself if you have the flu, and caring for others including babies and children.
Prevention, including information about immunisation for anyone including pregnant women, good hygiene to stop the spread of flu, and being prepared for a pandemic.
Seek urgent medical advice if there are danger signs
If you or someone you are looking after has influenza and is getting worse, or has certain warning symptoms or signs, you should call your GP for advice or call Healthline on 0800 611 166 immediately. The danger signs to look out for are listed on the Ministry of Health website and are also listed in the Auckland Regional Public Health Service influenza fact sheet.
Influenza is not a notifiable disease
Influenza is not usually a notifiable disease, unless there are exceptional circumstances, for example during a pandemic. From 1 January 2011, pandemic influenza H1N1 was removed from the list of notifiable diseases in New Zealand. Therefore doctors and laboratories are no longer required to notify cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 to the Medical Officer of Health.
Advice for residential institutions, early childhood education centres and schools
Auckland Regional Public Health Service has produced advice for residential institutions, early childhood education centres (ECECs), schools and other institutions in the Auckland region on managing cases and outbreaks of influenza.