Important facts about influenza (flu) for residential aged care, disability care and home care facilities

Many residents in residential care facilities are at higher risk of severe illness from influenza (more likely to get very sick and need hospital care), including:

  • people aged 65 years and older
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • people with certain medical conditions including heart disease, chronic lung conditions (including severe asthma), kidney or liver disease, diabetes, obesity, chronic neurological conditions, blood disorders, immunocompromising conditions, and other chronic conditions that need regular medical follow up or hospitalisation.

See People at higher risk of severe illness from influenza (flu) for further information.

Influenza vaccine

An influenza vaccine is recommended for all residents annually. A vaccine greatly reduces the risk of severe illness from influenza for individuals and prevents influenza outbreaks.

The influenza vaccine is free for all residents over 65 years, and those residents at higher risk of severe illness from influenza.

Residents have the right to refuse vaccinations. If a resident is unable to be vaccinated due to refusal or for medical reasons this must be clearly documented.

Antiviral medicines

Antiviral medicines such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) may reduce severe illness, hospitalisation and death from flu if taken early in the illness.

Prior to flu season, residents should be pre-assessed for suitability for antiviral medicines to support timely access and safe administration. To be effective, antivirals must be taken within 48 hours of when symptoms start.

It is recommended that RACFs retain a stock of oseltamivir for use in flu outbreaks and should contact the public health unit if urgent stock is required.

For more information on the use of antivirals in aged care facilities, visit Guidance on use of antivirals in residential aged care facilities (RACF).

Accessing influenza antiviral treatment

Residential aged care facilities (RACF) can order oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) directly from the State Vaccine Centre by completing the online RACF influenza antiviral treatment access form.

Once the form is complete, the request will go to the NSW vaccine distribution warehouse to be filled and distributed. RACFs can only order up to 250 doses of oseltamivir using this form. For orders over 250 doses, RACFs will need to contact their local public health unit on 1300 066 055. This form is for RACFs only.


It is strongly recommended that all visitors are vaccinated for influenza before the influenza season and that residential care facilities communicate the importance of the influenza vaccine with families and other visitors.

For further information regarding the current public health visitor entry recommendations for residential care facilities, please see the Guidance for residential aged care facilities on the public health management of acute respiratory infections or the Guidance for disability care facilities on the public health management of acute respiratory infections.


An annual influenza vaccine, prior to the influenza season, is strongly recommended for all staff of residential care facilities, and mandatory for NSW Health staff in category A positions. Please see Influenza vaccination information for healthcare workers for further information about category A positions and mandatory vaccination for NSW Health staff.

Facilities should communicate this with staff and remind them about the importance of getting their influenza vaccine. Staff includes, but is not limited to, kitchen and cleaning staff, administration, nurses, transport crews as well as any visiting volunteers or agency staff.

If possible, facilities are encouraged to support access to the vaccination for their workers, for example by providing vaccinations onsite.

Vaccination reduces influenza illness amongst staff members and may prevent the spread of influenza from staff to residents, reducing their risk of serious pneumonia, hospitalisation and death.

Practice good hygiene

  • Stay away from others when sick. If staying away is unavoidable, wear a mask and try to avoid contact with others as much as possible.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Clean hands regularly with hand sanitiser or soap and running water for 20 seconds

Policies, guidelines and fact sheets

Current as at: Tuesday 16 April 2024
Contact page owner: Communicable Diseases