Influenza vaccine for adults

Key points about the influenza (flu) vaccine for adults

  • The influenza immunisation programme runs each year between 1 April to 31 December.
  • It's best to get the flu vaccine as soon as you can. Winter is the time when you are most likely to come into contact with the flu and it takes about 2 weeks for your flu vaccination to be most effective.
  • On this page you can read about how to get the influenza vaccine.
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Adults are advised to get a flu vaccination EACH year to protect themselves and to reduce the spread of flu.

  • It's best to get the flu vaccine as soon as you can.
  • Winter is the time when you are most likely to come into contact with the flu and it takes about 2 weeks for the flu vaccination to be most effective.
  • Adults can get flu immunisations at many pharmacies.

From Tuesday 2 April, the 2024 flu vaccine is free for:

  • pregnant people
  • everyone aged 65 years and older
  • adults with underlying health conditions including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and serious asthma or respiratory disease
  • adults with an autoimmune disease, a cochlear implant or Down syndrome
  • anyone with mental illness such as schizophrenia or those currently accessing mental health services.

Read more about the free flu vaccine eligibility criteria – Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora(external link) and the flu vaccine for children.

Also see common questions about the flu vaccine.

You can get the flu vaccine together with the COVID-19 vaccine

All adults 30 years or older can receive the COVID-19 booster at the same time as the flu vaccine.

Young adults 16 years or over who are severely immunocompromised, or at a high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, can receive the COVID-19 booster at the same time as the flu vaccine.

Which flu vaccines are available?

The following flu vaccines will be available in 2024:

  • Influvac Tetra: Funded for those who are eligible.
    Read more about the free flu vaccine eligibility criteria at Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora.(external link)
  • Afluria Quad, Flucelvax Quad and Fluquadri: There's a cost involved as it's not funded.

For more detailed information on each vaccine, including the ingredients, read the Medsafe Consumer Information in the 'More information' section below.

The influenza vaccine (also called the flu vaccine) is used to prevent infection caused by the influenza (flu) virus. The flu can cause serious illness, especially in young children, older adults and people with long-term health problems, but anyone can become seriously ill from the flu virus.

Even if you're not feeling sick, you could still be infected with the flu virus and pass it on to others. Read more about the flu.

Vaccination is the best way to prevent infection and reduce the seriousness of illness if you become infected. If you do get the flu after being vaccinated, you usually get a mild form of it, recover faster and are less likely to have serious complications.


Being vaccinated causes your body to produce antibodies against the flu virus. This means your body can respond faster and more effectively to the flu when it's exposed to the virus. 

Each year the flu vaccine is made to match the different strains of flu virus likely to be in Aotearoa New Zealand. Even if the vaccine strains are the same it's still recommended that you have the vaccine each year, as the protection provided by the vaccine lessens over time. Read more about vaccination against influenza.

It's possible to come into contact with flu viruses all year round, but more flu virus is circulating in the community during winter. The flu vaccine is available from 1 April each year, before winter starts. 

Pregnancy

If you become pregnant after winter and haven't had a current flu vaccine, it's recommended that you have it by 31 December. Read more about vaccinations and pregnancy.

You should delay a flu vaccine if you’re feeling unwell.

If you’ve recently had COVID-19 you can have a flu vaccine as soon as you’ve recovered.

It’s also important to talk to your healthcare provider before getting the vaccine if you: 

  • have had Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • are having cancer treatments
  • have had an allergic reaction to a vaccination before.

The vaccine is given by injection into a muscle, eg, the muscle on your upper arm. If you have a condition that makes you bleed more easily than normal, it may be given as an injection underneath your skin. Babies and toddlers are given the injection on the side of their thigh.

Anyone aged over 9 years old only needs 1 dose of the flu vaccine to get protection for the season. For younger children, see influenza vaccine in children.  

After you get the flu vaccine, a trained healthcare professional will keep an eye on you to make sure you don't have any unwanted reaction to the vaccine. The time you will be monitored may vary depending on whether you have had an influenza vaccine before and if you've had an unwanted reaction before. Be prepared to stay where you're getting vaccinated for up to 20 minutes after the vaccination. 

Funded and unfunded flu vaccines are available in many different settings. These include your workplace, medical or health centres, pharmacies, community-based clinics including marae-based clinics, mobile health clinics and mobile vaccination services.

Find a provider near you on the Healthpoint(external link) website.

Read more about who can give vaccinations and where to get vaccinated.

Do I need to pay for the flu vaccine?

If you don't meet the above free flu vaccine criteria, or you don't have a free flu vaccine voucher from your employer, there will be a cost for the flu vaccine. Ask your doctor, nurse, healthcare provider, or pharmacy if you’re not sure.

If you're not eligible for a free flu vaccine, it can cost between $25 and $45.

Like all medicines, the flu vaccine can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve over time.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Pain, swelling or redness around the injection site 
  • This is quite common after having the vaccination.
  • It usually starts a few hours after getting the injection and settles within a few days.
  • Place a cold, wet cloth or ice pack where the injection was given. Leave it on for a short time. 
  • Don't rub the injection site.
  • Tell your doctor if it bothers you.
  • Read more: After your immunisation.(external link)
  • Fever
  • This is quite common for the first 1 or 2 days after receiving the injection and usually settles within a few days.
  • Dress lightly, with a single layer of clothing.
  • Keep the room cool and use a fan if you have one.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • The routine use of paracetamol is not recommended after vaccinations, but may be used if you are feeling unwell.
  • Tell your doctor if your fever persists.
  • Read more: After your immunisation.(external link)
  • Feeling unwell, tired or weak
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle ache
  • Headache
  • These are quite common for the first 1 or 2 days after receiving the injection.
  • They usually settle within a few days.
  • Rest and drink plenty of fluids.
  • The routine use of paracetamol isn't recommended following vaccinations, but may be used for relief of severe discomfort.
  • Tell your doctor if they bother you.
  • Read more: After your immunisation.(external link)

Read more about medicines and side effects and reporting a reaction that you think might be a side effect.

The following links have more information on the flu vaccine:

What you need to know about the flu vaccination [PDF, 181 KB] Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora, 2023
Flu (influenza) vaccines(external link) Immunise, Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora
Influenza and vaccination for older people(external link) The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ

Influvac Tetra(external link) Medsafe Consumer Information, NZ
FluQuadri (external link)Medsafe Consumer Information, NZ
Fluad® Quad (external link)Medsafe Consumer Information, NZ
Flucelvax® Quad(external link) Medsafe Consumer Information, NZ
Afluria® Quad (external link)Medsafe Consumer Information, NZ

References

  1. Influenza immunisation programme(external link) The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ
  2. Influenza vaccine(external link) The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ

Brochures


What you need to know about the flu vaccination 
Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora, 2023


Influenza and vaccination for older people
The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ


Flu 2024 Essential information for health professionals
The Immunisation Advisory Centre and Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora, 2024

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