Getting a flu shot

WHERE can I get it?

People eligible for a free influenza immunisation

Eligible people can get a free flu shot from their family doctor/general practice, and it is usually the practice nurse who administers the vaccine. 

Many community pharmacies provide free influenza vaccinations to:

  • individuals aged 13 years and older
  • pregnant women (any trimester) 

People who are not eligible to receive a free flu shot 

Available from:

  • your family doctor/general practice
  • urgent care, accident and after-hours medical centres (but NOT at hospital accident and emergency departments)
  • many pharmacies.

Your employer may offer a free flu shot.

WHEN should I get it?

Ideally before winter, because winter is the time when the most flu is in our communities. It takes around 2 weeks after your flu vaccination to be best protected. Even if you haven’t had the flu vaccine before winter, you can still get it in the following months.  

For the best protection, you’ll need to get the flu vaccine every year because:

  • protection against flu reduces over time
  • each year flu can be caused by different strains of flu viruses that are not covered by the previous year’s vaccine.

You can still have the vaccine if you have a cold. If you are only experiencing a head cold with a runny nose or sniffles without a high fever, it is okay to receive the immunisation. However, if you are very unwell, wait until you are better. If in doubt, check with your Lead Maternity Carer, doctor, nurse or pharmacist.  

WHAT can I expect when having a flu vaccine?

At your family doctor/general practice, a nurse will most likely give you the vaccine. Many local pharmacists also give flu vaccines to people aged 13 and older. 

You may be asked to wait for up to 20 minutes afterwards so that treatment can be given quickly if a very rare, severe allergic reaction occurs. Most people aged 13 years and older will only need to wait 5 minutes. Children under 13 years will need to wait 20 minutes.

Most people have no reaction to the flu vaccine. Some people have a mild fever, muscle aches or a headache for 1 or 2 days. Occasionally the area around the vaccine site (usually your arm) gets red, swollen or sore for a couple of days. These are normal responses to the vaccine. Allergic responses are very, very rare.

It takes up to 2 weeks for the body to develop protection against flu. If you have been infected with flu before or soon after having the vaccine, you can still get flu. If these symptoms continue or get worse, talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist or call 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).