In 2022 the flu jab is free for Māori or Pasifika aged 55 and over. It's expected that 2022 will be a bad flu year. This is because new strains of flu can now come in through our border, and we’re not in small bubbles anymore – so it can spread between us. Try to find time to get the flu jab before winter when flu spreads fastest.
Last updated: 10 May 2022
Where to get a free flu jab
You can book an appointment with your usual GP or healthcare provider – just give them a ring to schedule one.
Lots of pharmacies are also offering free flu jabs, and many of them allow walk-ins. It’s best to book an appointment in advance so you don’t have to wait for a free slot on the day.
Pharmacies offering free flu jabs are listed on Healthpoint.
What to bring with you
You do not need to bring ID when you get your flu jab, and you do not need to provide any proof of your ethnicity.
Your vaccinator can confirm your age by asking for your full name and matching you against your National Health Index (NHI) number.
An ID will assist the vaccinator in quickly confirming your details but is not required.
If you know your NHI number please bring this with you as it can assist your vaccinator.
To get a free vaccine you need to be a New Zealand resident, or eligible for publicly funded health services.
How long it will take
After your vaccination, you may be asked to wait for up to 20 minutes so that treatment can be given quickly if a very rare, severe allergic reaction occurs. If you’ve had a flu vaccine before, you might only need to wait 5 minutes - your vaccinator will let you know.
Even if you’re told you can leave after 5 minutes, you shouldn't drive any vehicle or ride a bike until 20 minutes have passed. Because of this, it’s a good idea to have a friend or whānau member with you to drive you home – or you can take public transport.
Bringing whānau to your appointment
Generally, it’s not a problem to bring whānau or friends to your appointment, but it’s a good idea to check with the vaccination site first, in case they have limits to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
If you’re unwell
You should delay a flu vaccine if you're feeling unwell.
If you’ve recently had COVID-19 you can have a flu jab as soon as you’ve recovered.
How long until you'll be protected
The flu jab cannot give you flu and it takes up to 2 weeks after getting your jab for your body to start protecting against flu.
Sometimes, getting a vaccine will not stop you getting flu, but it should stop you getting really sick.
Almost two-thirds of vaccinated adults who get flu will be protected from needing hospital care.
Getting a COVID-19 jab at the same time
It’s a great idea to get a COVID-19 and flu vaccine at the same time (if the vaccination site has COVID-19 vaccines available).
Just be mindful that if you’ve had COVID-19 recently, you’ll need wait at least 3 months before having a COVID-19 vaccination.
The flu jab is important every year, but very important this year because as everyone is aware, we've been locked down for the last two years.
So this year we will all be exposed in a way we haven't been exposed before.
So it's really important this year to get that flu vaccine to help prevent us getting very ill with the flu.
The flu vaccine is free if you're pregnant, people who are over the age of 65, Māori or Pasifika people over the age of 55 or people with long-term conditions.
If you've previously had a free flu vaccine you're probably still going to be eligible for one.
If you haven't had one before, but you have a long-term condition please contact your practice nurse to find out if you're eligible for a free vaccine.
To be eligible for a free flu vaccine as a child. If your child has been to hospital due to a lung problem, a respiratory problem then they can get a flu vaccine if they're under the age of five or if they have a long-term medical condition such as asthma, that may mean that they're eligible to have a free flu vaccine.
You're still allowed to get one, there's just a small cost.
I think that it's a way of protecting those people that might become more sick from the flu, so if you work with children, if you work with elderly or you just like to protect those around you or yourself, because as we've seen with COVID-19 even young fit healthy people can still sometimes get very sick from the flu.
There is common side effects that we have when getting the flu vaccine and actually they're pretty similar to those that we have when we have COVID-19.
When you have a vaccine it stimulates your body to respond to be able to fight off that infection.
So actually you get the same symptoms you would get if you were getting sick, but actually not getting sick it's your immune system being primed.
You might get a fever, you might get headache, you might get an achy body.
That is actually a normal immune response, that is your body telling you there's something wrong, I need to fight it off and we expect it but it's nothing like getting the real disease.
The flu vaccine is not new.
The way it's made, we have lots of data and information, we've been giving the flu vaccine for decades and we can give it from as young as six months old all the way up to over a hundred.
So every year there are a number of flu viruses in the community and so the flu vaccine only covers those that were either very common or severe from the previous year and so every year there will be other viruses that aren't in the flu vaccine that people can still catch and become unwell with and so it's a prediction game.
So sometimes there will be a strain that is new that isn't covered by the flu vaccine.
So yes, you can actually have your COVID-19 vaccine plus the flu vaccine at the same time.
Actually, you can if you haven't had some of your childhood immunisations, such as the measles you can also have that at the same time as having your COVID-19 vaccine.
So I’d strongly recommend if you haven't already had all your COVID-19 vaccines or your booster to please have this at the same time as getting your flu vaccine.