Influenza (also known as 'flu') is a highly contagious illness caused by the influenza virus. It can spread quickly when large numbers of people are in close contact, such as at school, childcare centres, and social gatherings.
Influenza can cause serious illness in children aged 5 and under, and particularly those under 2 years. Children under 5 years are most likely to spread influenza and suffer complications.
Some people are eligible for a free flu shot because they are at greater risk of severe illness from flu. This includes:
Vaccinations are available from your doctor, local pharmacies or Aboriginal Medical Service. Pharmacists can administer the flu shot to children aged 5 and over. Parents with children aged under 5 years should see their doctor.
Please note: some providers may charge an administration or consultation fee. Ask your doctor, pharmacist or Aboriginal Medical Service if this applies to you.
If you are not eligible for a free flu shot, your doctor or pharmacist will charge you a small fee. The fee may vary between providers.
Keep sick children away from school, childcare and other activities.
If your child has
flu symptoms such as a fever, cough, noisy breathing, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, fatigue or nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea, keep them at home and avoid close contact with other people to prevent others from also becoming sick.
Keep your child at home until they are well and their fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine, like paracetamol. If your child has a confirmed diagnosis of influenza from a doctor, your child may remain infectious for at least 10 days.
This is especially important if you visit people who are at higher risk of severe illness from influenza - including pregnant women, young infants, older people or people in hospital or residential care facilities.
People at higher risk of severe illness from flu may be eligible for antiviral medicines such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu®). Speak with your doctor to see if your child is eligible. This may be provided as a capsule or liquid that is taken by mouth. If your child cannot swallow a capsule you can open the capsule and mix the contents with water for your child to drink. Speak with your pharmacist for further advice on how to do this safely. See the
influenza fact sheet for more information.
To protect yourself and others from flu, you can do the following:
Talk to your doctor early if you are worried about your child's illness.
Most children can be managed safely at home. For more information see the
influenza fact sheet.
If your child is younger than 5 years (and especially younger than 2 years) or of any age with a pre-existing health condition (like asthma, a neurological condition, a heart condition or diabetes) and develops influenza-like symptoms, they may be more likely to become unwell from influenza. Talk to your doctor for further advice.
Monitor your child for the following warning signs and if they occur, seek immediate medical advice or call triple zero (000) for an ambulance: