Flu season is just around the corner, here's what you should know

18 May 2020

Each year in New Zealand, between 10-20% of the population catches the flu.

This year the flu season is expected to start in late May 2020, and with COVID still threatening the health and lives of many Kiwis, the flu season is all the more a worry. 

The flu (influenza) is not the same as a cold. It is often mistaken as the same, but the consequences can be much more serious for the flu. For some, the flu can turn into something much worse (including hospitalisation and even deaths), especially if the person have underlying conditions, or if they are weaker due to age (older or younger) or are pregnant. 

Free flu vaccine for most at risk Kiwis

Ministry of Health recommends that people most at risk should get the flu vaccine and have made it free if you fall into one of the categories below:

  • Pregnant

  • Aged 65 or older

  • Children aged 4 years or under who have had a stay in hospital for measles, asthma or other breathing problems

  • or, you have diabetes, most heart or lung conditions and some other illnesses (click here to see the full list)

How the flu spreads and what to look out for

The flu virus is easily spread from person to person and symptoms are typically fever, chills, muscle aches, runny nose, cough and stomach upsets. It may take between 1–4 days to feel symptoms after you catch flu, with the worst symptoms usually lasting about 5 days, but coughing can continue for up to 2–3 weeks.

Flu is passed through droplets of moisture from breathing, coughing and sneezing.  It is spread when a person touches the droplets which contain the virus and goes on to touch their mouth, nose or eyes before washing their hands.

What to do if you've got the flu

If you have the flu, stay home and away from others and wash your hands regularly. It's best to be in a well ventilated room and keep drinking small amounts of water frequently. The Ministry of Health recommends that if you are pregnant, a child or an adult with chronic health conditions, and adults aged 65 years or older, you should visit the doctor as soon as you think you have the flu. Early treatment can make the illness less severe. 

Find out more from these resources:

Fight Flu

Working Health

Ministry of Health

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