What is the flu?
Flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can affect the nose, throat, and lungs. It causes mild to severe illness, and can sometimes lead to death. The best way to prevent flu is by getting the annual flu vaccine. Yearly influenza vaccination is recommended for people aged 6 months and over. Certain groups of people who are more at risk of complications from influenza are eligible for annual influenza vaccination free under the National Immunisation Program.
Flu is different from a common cold, it usually comes on suddenly. People who have flu may have the following symptoms:
- fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- muscle or body aches
- fatigue (tiredness)
- some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
If you have cold or flu symptoms and are having difficulty getting an appointment with your GP, you can attend one of the three General Practice Respiratory Clinics in the local region.
- Ryde – 39 Delhi Rd North Ryde
- Roseville – 132A Pacific Hwy, Roseville
- Dee Why – 5 Mooramba Rd, Dee Why
These clinics are for people needing non-urgent care for cold or flu or other respiratory conditions, there is no charge for patients to attend these clinics and no charge for people who do not have a Medicare card. All three clinics are appointment-based, bookings can be made via HotDocs
How does flu spread?
Flu virus spreads mainly by tiny droplets made by people with flu coughing, sneezing, or talking. These droplets can land in the airways of people who are nearby. A person might also contract flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
People at High Risk from flu
Anyone of any age can get the flu (even healthy people), but some people are at a higher risk of developing serious complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, pregnant women, and children younger than 5 years.
The annual influenza vaccination is free under the National Immunisation Program for:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
- Children aged 6 months to under 5 years
- Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- People aged 65 years or over.
- People aged 6 months or over who have medical conditions that mean they have a higher risk of getting serious disease:
- cardiac disease
- chronic respiratory conditions
- chronic neurological conditions
- immunocompromising conditions
- diabetes and other metabolic disorders
- renal disease
- haematological disorders
- children aged six months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy.
When should I get vaccinated against flu?
It is recommended to receive a flu vaccine from April onwards to be protected for the peak flu season, which is June to September. The highest level of protection occurs in the first 3 to 4 months following vaccination.
However, it is never too late to vaccinate since influenza can circulate in the community all year round.
Where to get vaccinated
You can get your vaccine from a range of vaccination providers. Find out where and more about your vaccination visit at getting vaccinated.
Helpful advice from local health professionals about building your winter resilience.
Director of Street Side Medics Dr Daniel Nour on recognising early symptoms of the flu and making flu vaccines accessible.
General Practitioner & Associate Professor Dr Fiona Robinson explains how crucial it is to practice self-care to build natural immunity to disease.
Emergency Physician Royal North Shore Hospital Dr Liz Swinburn emphasises the importance of getting vaccinated to protect those most vulnerable in our community.
Geriatric Nurse Practitioner Amy Bowen explains the significance of staying healthy to protect yourself from the flu.
Resources for Healthcare professionals
Department of Health Information
NSW Health Resources
- Influenza resources for health professionals
- Influenza vaccination information for healthcare workers
- Guidance for RACFs on Acute Respiratory infections (including COVID-19 and Influenza)
Infection Prevention and Control (IPC)
- DoH Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG) endorsed infection prevention and control guidance
- DoH Minimising the risk of infectious respiratory disease transmission in the context of COVID-19: The hierarchy of controls
- NHMRC Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare
- RACGP Infection and control standards
Free flu vaccinations are now available to all NSW residents over the age of 6 months to boost immunity for the winter season. This is especially important if you are at higher risk of severe illness from the flu.
Free flu shots will be available until 17 July at:
- GP’s for everyone aged 6 months and over
- pharmacies for everyone aged 5 years and over.
Ordering Influenza vaccines for RACFs
- All vaccine orders to be placed via the NSW Vaccine Centre online ordering system
- Complete the online ordering registration form and email to MOHvaccreports@health.nsw.gov.au with your facility’s details and primary contact.
- Log on details will be provided via email. Once logged on you can access the Online Ordering system.
A FREE Influenza vaccine will be available to all NSW residents from June 1st at participating GP practices and Pharmacies.
The Commonwealth government also provides free Influenza Vaccines through the NIP for individuals that meet the eligibility criteria:
- All children aged 6 months to <5 years
- All adults aged 65 years and older
- All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- Pregnant women
- Acute Kidney Injury Sick Day Plan
- Asthma Australia Action Plan
- CKD Management in Primary Care handbook
- Heart Foundation: Living well with heart failure
- National Asthma Action Plan
- Lung Foundation COPD Action Plan
- T1DM fact sheet managing sick days
- T2DM fact sheet managing sick days
- National Asthma Action Plan
To assist general practices plan and prepare for the influenza season, below are links to useful recipes supplied by PENCS which will assist you in identifying patients at a higher risk of severe illness:
- Identify patients at risk for Influenza based on age, ethnicity, or pregnancy
- Influenza Vaccination by Patient Group
- Identify patients at risk for influenza with predisposing conditions
- Influenza graphs
Other additional tools include The Flu App available in Topbar which combines the Australian Department of Health’s recommendation, NIP eligibility criteria and the patient’s record to help you quickly identify patients who are recommended to receive an influenza vaccination but have not yet received a dose. For more information and benefits about the Flu App, please view the flyers below:
Can influenza & COVID vaccinations be co-administered during the same consultation and what MBS items can be utilised?
ATAGI has advised that all COVID-19 vaccines can be co-administered (given on the same day) with an influenza vaccine. These services can be provided during the same attendance.
A vaccine suitability assessment MBS item can be billed for the COVID-19 vaccination. Influenza vaccine services are typically administered with standard MBS attendance items and there are no MBS items for administering an influenza vaccine.
Patients should be informed of any potential out of pocket costs before any service is provided,
preferably when they book their appointment