Avoid the flu this season

What is the flu?

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is caused by a highly contagious virus that is spread by contact with fluids from coughs and sneezes. The flu usually differs from a cold as symptoms develop suddenly, and can lead to complications such as chest infections and pneumonia. Unlike a cold, symptoms such as fever, sore throat and muscle aches develop suddenly and last about a week. Other symptoms can include: tiredness, high fever, chills, headache, coughing, sneezing, runny noses, poor appetite, and muscle aches.

Prevent the flu

It’s important to be immunised every year because the influenza virus changes. The influenza virus has a unique ability to change its surface structure. This means that even if you had the flu or an immunisation one year, your body’s immune system might be unable to fight the changed version of the virus that will be circulating the following year.


Pregnant women are at increased risk of complications from the flu. Influenza vaccine is strongly recommended and safe for pregnant women at any time during pregnancy. It can also be safely given while breastfeeding. Influenza vaccination of pregnant women also protects infants against influenza for the first six months after birth due to transplacental transfer of antibodies from the vaccinated woman to the fetus.

Others at high risk

Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for any person from six months of age who wishes to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with the flu.

High risk groups include:

  • anyone aged 65 years and older pregnant women (at any stage of pregnancy).
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • People with existing illness, such as heart and kidney disease and diabetes.

Reference: betterhealth.vic.gov.au & immunise.health.gov.au