Influenza (also known as 'flu') is a highly contagious illness caused by the influenza virus.
There are simple things you can do to protect yourself and your mob from flu.
What are the symptoms of flu?
People with flu often experience some or all the following symptoms:
fever and chills
cough, sore throat and runny or stuffy nose
muscle aches, joint pains, headaches and fatigue (feeling very tired)
nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea (more common in children than adults).
Symptoms of flu may last for more than a week. Some people only have mild symptoms for a few days, particularly if they have some immunity from a previous infection or vaccination. Other people can get very sick from the flu and may have complications such as lung infection (pneumonia) or severe breathing difficulties requiring hospitalisation. These complications can occur in anyone but are most likely in those at higher risk of severe illness.
Get a free flu shot
The best way to avoid flu this winter is to get a flu shot. Free flu shots are available for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over. This is because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are at greater risk of getting very sick from the flu.
Flu shots are especially important for pregnant women and can help protect the baby for the first few months of life.
You should get vaccinated each year from mid-April onwards to be protected before the flu season, which is usually June to September in most parts of Australia.
It is important to get the vaccine every year, as influenza virus strains can change from one season to the next.
Practice healthy hygiene
To protect yourself and others from flu, you can do the following:
Stay at home if you are sick with cold and flu symptoms. If you need to leave home when you are sick, wear a mask and avoid contact with people at higher risk of severe illness.
Avoid contact with people who are sick. Wear a mask if you are unable to stay away from other people in crowded indoor spaces.
Wash your hands often. Use soap and water and wash for 20 seconds. When you can't wash your hands with soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and sneeze into your elbow instead of your hands.
Clean frequently touched surfaces, particularly when people are sick.
Book an appointment for a free flu shot today with your healthcare worker or pharmacist. Pharmacists can administer the flu shot to children aged 5 and over. Parents with children aged under 5 years should see their local healthcare worker.
Let your doctor or nurse know you identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander when you ask about your free flu shot, as some providers may charge an administration or consultation fee.
Check out the new 2023 influenza vaccination information and resources.