Frequently Asked Questions About The Flu
Facts about the Flu:
How is the flu spread?
Influenza (commonly known as the flu) is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. When someone who has the flu sneezes, coughs, or even talks, the flu virus is expelled into the air and may be inhaled by anyone close by. It can also be spread by touch.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
The flu can include any or all of these symptoms: fever, muscle aches, headaches, lack of energy, dry cough, sore throat and a runny nose.
Can anyone catch the flu?
Yes. Healthy adults, children and infants can become seriously ill and can even die. Healthy people can spread influenza to others around them. Although people with underlying medical conditions, like asthma or diabetes, are most at risk from flu-associated complications, previously fit and healthy people have ended up in hospital or have died from this serious illness.
Is the flu contagious?
Yes the flu is contagious. If you are infected with the flu, you are contagious from a day before you feel sick until your symptoms have resolved (usually about 1 week for adults, but can be up to 2 weeks for children).
1 in 4 New Zealanders are infected with the flu each year, but 80% of those show no symptoms and can pass their flu onto others who may become seriously ill.
How do I avoid catching the flu?
The best way to avoid the flu is to have an annual vaccination, maintain optimal health and practice good personal hygiene.
What are the complications if I catch the flu?
Complications of the flu can include illnesses like pneumonia, sinus infection, or worsening of other illnesses like asthma or heart failure. Worsening of flu complications can lead to death.
I had the flu vaccination last year, do I need to have another one?
The flu mutates very quickly and frequently, which is why the flu virus is different every year. This is why it is recommended to get the flu vaccine annually.
Facts about the Vaccine:
What am I protected from?
The 2019 Quadivalent flu vaccine includes protection against the following strains:
- A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
- A/Switzerland/8060/2017-like virus (New)
- B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus
- B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus (New)
The flu vaccination does not protect you from the common cold, only against the strains of the flu covered in the vaccine.
How long before I am protected?
It can take up to two weeks following the vaccination for the body to build antibodies.
How long will the protection last?
Protection from the flu vaccination will last for at least the flu season, and up to one year. Each year the flu virus is different so just because you had the vaccine last year doesn’t make you immune — they keep changing. The vaccines are made each year based on the most common flu circulating.
Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?
No – you cannot get influenza from the vaccine. The vaccine stimulates the immune system and contains protection against circulating flu viruses. Some people may coincidentally get sick around the time of their vaccination. The vaccine is purified and inactivated so it is absolutely unable to give you the flu. People who are vaccinated who get the flu likely came into contact with the virus prior to vaccination, or before the vaccine has been able to take effect.
The Immunisation Advisory Centre has a flu information brochure translated into 11 languages available here. This is available in Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Cook Island Maori, Simplified Chinese, Hindi, Filipino, Korean, Niuean, Arabic and Urdu.