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did you know?

The flu viruses change constantly, which is why outbreaks occur every year.

Flu - What is it?

Influenza, commonly known as the 'flu', is usually caused by two kinds of viruses: Influenza A and Influenza B. Both Influenza A and B viruses change all the time, which is why there are flu outbreaks every year. Flu outbreaks usually occur during winter.

Flu - What are the symptoms?

Common symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, headache, cough, sneezing, a runny nose, poor appetite, tiredness and muscle aches. However, when a child gets a fever because of the flu, the temperatures can be higher, and there might be an increased risk of convulsions (or fits).

For some people, having the flu could lead to more serious conditions like bronchitis (inflammation of the lungs), pneumonia (lung infection), or problems with the heart, blood system and liver.

This is not a full list of symptoms that can occur following a flu infection. Please speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about the flu.

Flu - How is it spread?

Flu can be spread from person to person through the air, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread by direct contact with a person who has the flu or an object that a person with the flu has touched.

Once a person has the flu, they can spread it to other people from the day before their first symptoms appear and up to five days after their symptoms stop.

Flu - Who is at risk?

Flu can affect anyone, but getting the flu can be worse for people aged 65 years or older, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions, such as heart problems, asthma or lung problems, kidney problems, blood or metabolic diseases (such as diabetes), or weakened immune systems.

Other people may be at risk of the flu. Please speak to your doctor regarding your individual circumstances.

Flu - Vaccination

Flu vaccines, are recommended every year for people aged 6 months and older who wish to reduce the likelihood of catching the flu.

Flu vaccination is strongly recommended and provided free as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for the following groups:

  • people aged 6 months or older  who have medical conditions that put them at greater risk of complications
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years or over
  • people aged 65 years and over
  • pregnant women

Flu vaccination is also recommended for young infants and children (aged 6 months to five years), women planning pregnancy, healthcare professionals and travellers.

Other individuals may also be at greater risk of catching the flu, or spreading flu to those at high risk of serious problems from the flu. Please discuss your individual circumstances with your doctor.

Flu – Treatment

Antiviral medicines can be used to treat the flu.

Antiviral medicines are different from antibiotics, which fight against bacterial infections. Antivirals fight against viruses like the flu.

Antiviral medicines can help to reduce symptoms and decrease the amount of time you are sick by 1 or 2 days. They also can help to prevent serious problems from the flu, like pneumonia (lung infection).

If your flu is not severe, treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and can include bed rest, drinking plenty of fluids and taking paracetamol to help reduce pain and fever.

Please speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about flu treatment

For information about flu vaccination in your area, contact your State or Territory Health Department or your doctor.


Some side effects may be experienced following vaccination. Please discuss any side effects or concerns with your healthcare professional.


More information on the flu can be found at:




AUS/VAC/0016/15. Date of approval: March 2015.