What is Flu?

Influenza (flu) is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza virus. Flu is more serious than the common cold. Severe cases can result in breathing difficulties and pneumonia and each year, people in NSW die from flu-related illness. Flu can occur throughout the year but is most common in autumn and winter.

People with flu often experience some or all the following symptoms:

  • fever and chills
  • cough, sore throat and runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle aches, joint pains, headaches and fatigue (feeling very tired)
  • nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea

Flu is mostly spread when people with flu cough or sneeze and can also spread by touching a surface or object that virus droplets have landed on from an infected person. People with flu can spread it to others before they are sick as well as while they are sick.

The only way to confirm a diagnosis of flu is to have a PCR (nose and throat swab) test.

To get tested ask an officer or a nurse.



Hear from Dr Allison as she addresses some common questions about influenza or 'the flu'.

Hear from Dr Kath about why the flu vaccine can help protect Aboriginal patients. 


How do I protect myself?


Tell a nurse or an officer if you have flu symptoms


Get a flu vaccine every year- ask a nurse or fill in a self-referral form for flu vaccine. A flu vaccine is needed every year as influenza virus strains change constantly. A vaccine is prepared each year to best match the strains predicted for the coming flu season. Vaccination can help stop severe illness caused by flu.


  • Protecting yourself from flu and getting a flu vaccine is especially important if you are
    • pregnant,
    • 65yrs or older,
    • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
    • Have conditions including heart disease, chronic lung conditions (including severe asthma), kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, obesity, chronic neurological conditions, blood disorders, immunocompromise, and other chronic conditions that need regular medical follow up or hospitalisation


Remember to maintain physical distancing if you can



You can choose to wear a mask- ask an officer



What should I do if I have the flu?

Most symptoms can be managed with:

  • get plenty of rest
  • regular paracetamol and ibuprofen can help with pain and fevers
  • staying hydrated with regular sips of water.


People at higher risk of severe illness from flu may be eligible for antiviral medicines. Antiviral medicines may reduce severe illness, hospitalisation and death from flu if taken early in the illness. To be most effective, antivirals should be taken within 48 hours of when symptoms start.


Let an officer or nurse know immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • shortness of breath or rapid breathing
  • chest pain or pressure lasting longer than ten minutes
  • confusion or sudden dizziness
  • persistent vomiting.