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Influenza (the flu)

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Fact sheet - Health conditions directory.

Influenza or 'the flu' is a highly contagious disease caused by infection from influenza type A or B (or rarely C) virus. These viruses infect the upper airways and lungs. The flu is highly contagious and occurs year-round, but infection rates tend to increase during the cooler months. Flu season in Queensland is typically from June to September, with the peak usually in August. Flu is not the same as a common cold and can be a serious illness. For some people, such as the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, the flu can cause serious complications which require hospitalisation. It can sometimes lead to death. Flu is usually spread through infected people coughing and sneezing, which temporarily contaminates the surrounding air and surfaces with infected droplets. You can reduce the risk of infection by getting vaccinated every year and practising good hand and respiratory hygiene. Occasionally there have been worldwide outbreaks of flu, known as flu pandemics, which have occurred with the global spread of a new type of flu virus. Greater protection against influenza infection is observed in people who receive yearly influenza vaccination compared to those who did not receive any influenza vaccination.

Influenza and COVID-19

Influenza is not the same illness as COVID-19. There are separate vaccines available to protect individuals against influenza and COVID-19. The Influenza vaccine can be co-administered (i.e. on the same day) with the COVID-19 vaccines. For further information please visit the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) website.

Whilst influenza vaccine will not prevent coronavirus infection it can reduce the severity and spread of influenza, which may make a person more susceptible to other respiratory illnesses like coronavirus.

Further information and common questions about COVID-19 and flu vaccines can be found on the Queensland Government website.

For more details regarding vaccines that protect against COVID-19 please visit the Australian Government Department of Health's website

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Resources for health professionals


  • The online version of the Australian Immunisation Handbook provides up to date clinical guidelines for health professionals on the safest and most effective use of vaccines in their practice. Always use the online version to ensure you have the most current information.

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Epidemiological data and reports

Last updated: 5 June 2023

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