Flu vaccines are free for those people who are most likely to get very sick. Anyone over 6 months can have a flu vaccine.
Last updated: 6 March 2023
On this page:
- What the flu vaccine protects you from
- Who flu jabs are free for
- If you’re not eligible for a free flu jab
- How many flu jabs needed
- When to get a flu jab
- Getting a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as a flu jab
- What to expect when you get your flu vaccine
What the flu vaccine protects you from
Getting a flu jab helps reduce your risk of getting really sick or having to go to hospital.
The flu virus affects your whole body. Symptoms come on suddenly and can include fever, chills, muscle aches, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath, and stomach upsets. It can keep you in bed for a week or more.
It can give you pneumonia. And in severe cases means a hospital stay – particularly if you’re older, a young child, pregnant, or have an ongoing medical condition, such as heart disease or diabetes. Sometimes the flu can be fatal – around 500 people die from the flu every year, with hundreds more hospitalised.
The flu vaccine stops flu from spreading
Getting a flu jab each year is the best way to stop flu from spreading.
Around 4 out of 5 people with flu have no symptoms and do not know they can be spreading the virus to other people.
Being vaccinated reduces the risk of accidentally passing the flu to your whānau, friends, and your community.
Who can get a free 2023 flu vaccine
Flu vaccinations are free for:
- Tamariki aged 6 months to 12 years old
- People aged 65 years and over
- Māori and Pacific people aged 55 years and over
- Pregnant people
- People who have a long-term medical condition like diabetes, asthma, or a heart condition (ages 6 months+)
- People with serious mental health or addiction needs
If you’re eligible for a free flu jab contact your GP, usual healthcare provider or local pharmacy to make a booking.
If you’re not eligible for a free flu jab
If you’re not eligible for a free flu jab, and not covered by an employer-funded programme, it costs between $25 and $45 depending on the vaccine and provider.
Contact your GP or local pharmacy to find out how much they charge and when you can book.
How many flu vaccines you need
Most people, aged 9 years and over, need 1 vaccination each year to get good protection against flu.
If you have a child under 9 years old, talk to your healthcare provider as they may need one or two vaccinations depending on if they’ve had a flu vaccine before.
When to get a flu jab
For the best protection get a flu jab before winter.
Winter is when the most flu is in our communities, and it takes around 2 weeks after your flu vaccination to be best protected.
Getting a COVID-19 vaccination at the same time as the free flu jab
You can have any COVID-19 vaccination at the same time as your free flu vaccine. There’s no need to leave a gap between these vaccines.
Being up-to-date with all your vaccinations gives you the best possible protection. You will need to check the vaccination site is able to administer both before you arrive.
When you should not get a flu jab
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.
It’s also important to talk to your health professional before getting the vaccine if you:
- have had Guillain-Barre syndrome
- are having cancer treatments
- have had an allergic reaction to a vaccination before.
What to expect when you get your flu vaccine
Many local pharmacists can also give the flu jab to people aged 3 years and older. If your appointment is at your GP or healthcare provider, a nurse will most likely give you the vaccine.
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. Many people aged 13 years and older will only need to wait 5 minutes. Children under 13 years will need to wait 20 minutes.
Avoid driving, cycling, or using any other mobility device for 20 minutes after your vaccination.
Side effects of the flu vaccine
The types of flu vaccine given in 2023 can be given to people with egg allergies.
Studies have shown that flu vaccines containing one microgram or less of ovalbumin don’t trigger anaphylaxis in sensitive people. The residual ovalbumin in one dose of the flu vaccine is below this limit.
None of the flu vaccines used in 2023 have come into contact with any latex materials, and the syringes do not have any components made using natural rubber latex.
If you’re highly sensitive to latex, or have had a severe allergic reaction to latex, tell your healthcare provider before getting the flu vaccine.