In 2017, over 650 people died from influenza in NSW.

The flu is much more serious than a cold and very infectious.

You’ve likely got a full blown respiratory illness if the following symptoms last for at least a week:

  • fever and chills
  • cough, sore throat; and running or stuffy nose
  • muscle aches, joint pains, headaches and fatigue (feeling very tired)
  • nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea (more common in children than adults).

An annual flu shot is your best protection – it’s safe and doesn’t give you the flu, despite the misconception.

You need a new shot before winter every year because flu viruses are constantly mutating.

Each year, a new flu vaccine is prepared to best match the strains predicted for the coming flu season.

Flu shots are free at your GP for:

  • pregnant women
  • children six months to five years and under
  • all Aboriginal people from six months of age
  • people with serious health conditions, including severe asthma, diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, kidney, heart, lung or liver disease
  • all people 65 years and over.

Even if you don’t qualify for a free shot, it’s well worth paying $15 to $20 to avoid suffering a bout of this horrendous annual bug or passing it onto your family and colleagues.

You can spread the flu by coughing or sneezing or touching surfaces where infected droplets have landed.

Adults with the flu are infectious from the day before their symptoms start until 5-7 days later and young children and people with weakened immune systems may be infectious for longer.

So…to prevent the flu, get a shot, cover your mouth with your elbow when coughing or sneezing, wash hands frequently and stay home if you’re sick.

Seek immediate medical advice if you experience:

  • shortness of breath or rapid breathing
  • chest pain
  • confusion or sudden dizziness
  • persistent vomiting.

For more information, talk to your doctor or health worker; or visit NSW Health.