Health Topic of the Month

Flu (Influenza)

What is it?

Is a highly contagious viral infection and spreads easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing and close contact.

What are the symptoms?

  • symptoms usually develop 1-3 days following contact
  • high fever, tiredness, chills, headache, muscle aches, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and poor appetite
  • some people can develop more serious and life threatening complications.

How is it spread?

  • from person to person from coughing or sneezing, or by direct contact with respiratory secretions
  • it is communicable for 3-5 days from the onset of symptoms and up to 7 days in young children.

Who is most at risk?

  • Pregnant women - If you are pregnant you can be given the vaccine at any time during the pregnancy
  • people aged 6 months and over with medical conditions such as severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 6 months and less than 5 years
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are aged 15 years and over
  • people aged 65 years and older.

How can we reduce the risk?

  • annual vaccination is the best way of preventing the “Flu “
  • the vaccine changes every year so it protects against the strains likely to be around during that winter
  • the peak time for the “Flu” season in August and it is important to be protected around that time. Consult your doctor for the best time to receive your vaccination
  • taking care with hand washing. Covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing. Use disposable tissues. Don’t share cups or eating utensils. Stay at home if you think you have the “flu”.

What should I do if I suspect I, or someone in my family has the 'Flu'?

  • see your family doctor.

National Immunisation Program for 2017

  • the vaccination is available from April from GP surgeries and immunisation providers
  • the vaccine is highly recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months, and is available free for people who face high risk from influenza and its complications.

Childcare centres

Outbreaks of influenza or influenza-like illness in childcare requires exclusion of cases and may require protection for high-risk contacts.

Contact us

For more information please contact: Maternal Child Health Line