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Flu (Influenza)

Flu (Influenza)

Flu season 2023 could be the worst yet

With levels of social interaction back to their normal pre-Covid levels, there is a high risk that the 2023 flu season could be one of the worst experienced in many years. 

To give you the best flu protection this winter, make sure you and your aiga are up to date with all of your vaccinations. Getting immunised now helps to stop the spread of flu around your community. 

Each year the strains of the flu virus which are predicted to affect New Zealanders are reviewed and the available vaccines may be changed according to the strains. The protection provided by flu vaccines decreases after a few months, so children and adults need to be re-vaccinated each year before winter.

You can get the 2023 flu vaccine in New Zealand from 1 April.

How to get vaccinated

Check our vaccination event page for regular Pacific community vaccination events that include vaccines for COVID-19, flu, measles and whooping cough.

700x350 flu web image

The flu and COVID-19 are different viruses, so even if you have had the COVID-19 vaccine, you need to have a flu vaccine to get protection from the flu. 

Book your flu and COVID-19 vaccines now at, call Healthline on 0800 28 29 26, or contact your GP, pharmacy or healthcare provider. 

It's free for eligible people from GPs, some pharmacies, and some Māori and Pacific immunisation providers throughout New Zealand. See below for immunisation eligibility.

Influenza information and resources

The flu (Influenza) can be much worse than a common cold. It can be a very serious illness, particularly for older people, young children, pregnant people and their unborn babies, and people with health conditions such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, or serious mental health conditions.

People at higher risk of developing complications if they get influenza include:

  • pregnant people and those who have just given birth
  • people with an ongoing health condition (like asthma, diabetes, cancer, a heart or lung condition, and conditions that affect the nervous or immune systems)
  • significantly overweight people
  • Māori and Pacific peoples aged 55 and over
  • people aged 65 years or over
  • very young children, especially infants (under 1 year).

The influenza virus infects your nose, throat and lungs. The flu is normally worse than a cold and spreads quickly from person to person through touch and through the air.

Symptoms of influenza come on suddenly and can include fever, chills, muscle aches, runny nose, cough and stomach upsets.

Seek urgent medical advice if you have:

  • a high fever that doesn’t come down, especially if you are pregnant
  • chills or severe shaking
  • difficulty breathing or chest pain
  • purple or bluish discolouration of your lips, skin, fingers or toes
  • seizures or convulsions
  • signs of other serious conditions, such as meningococcal disease (which may include severe headache, sleepiness, vomiting, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, and sometimes a rash).

Read more about Influenza symptoms on the Ministry of Health website.

If you are sick, it is still important to stay away from others, wash your hands, and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.

Even if you don’t feel sick, you could still be infected with flu and pass it on to others.

If you are unwell, stay at home and rest ideally/preferably in a separate, well-ventilated room away from other people. It is important to drink small amounts of fluids often.

Antibiotics only work against bacterial infections, not the viral infections that cause influenza.

Phone Healthline (0800 611 116) or your doctor if you are concerned or if you:

  • feel a lot worse, or you are not getting better after a few days
  • have an existing health condition or are in a high risk group (see Symptoms)
  • are pregnant
  • are taking any medication that affects the immune system
  • are looking after someone with influenza and you are in a high risk group

If clinically indicated, your doctor may recommend antiviral medications. Take them as directed.

Read more about treating Influenza on the Ministry of Health website.

Vaccination gives the best protection against flu. 

The sooner you get a flu vaccine, the better. It can take up to two weeks after you get the vaccine for your body to start protecting you.  1.8 million doses of the flu vaccine will be available in 2023.

The vaccine is free for people at higher risk of getting very sick from the flu including:

  • people aged 65 years and over
  • Māori and Pacific peoples aged 55 years and over
  • pregnant people
  • people who have a long-term medical condition like diabetes, asthma, or a heart condition (ages 6 months+)
  • children aged 6 months to 12 years 
  • people with mental health and addiction issues

Flu vaccines help protect against the main types of flu viruses, although there's still a chance you might get flu.

Many employers provide free flu vaccines to their workforces. If you are offered the flu vaccine by your work, you are encouraged to take the opportunity – it’s an important way to protect yourself and help minimise your workplace being disrupted.  

While it is possible to catch flu after immunisation, your symptoms are less likely to be severe. 

Book your flu and COVID-19 vaccines now at, call Healthline on 0800 28 29 26, or contact your GP, pharmacy or healthcare provider. 

Learn more about flu immunisation from the Immunisation web page.