Get a flu shot before you go overseas

  • If you're travelling to the Northern Hemisphere during their winter (December to February), plan to get a flu shot at least 2 weeks before you leave.
  • Even if you had a flu shot for our winter flu season – you might need another one for the Northern Hemisphere winter flu season. Protection from the flu shot begins to fall after three or four months.
  • Talk to your GP or travel clinic for information and advice. They may need to make a special order to get the flu vaccine in for you.

Don’t ruin your holiday with the flu

Influenza or flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Flu is more serious than a common cold. Most people recover after a week but for some people it can be fatal.

Flu epidemics occur every winter. If you are travelling during the winter influenza season it’s strongly recommended that you get a flu shot, especially if you are:

  • travelling in a large tourist group (especially those including older people)
  • travelling on a cruise
  • travelling to participate in a mass gathering (such as a pilgrimage to Mecca or to attend a large festival).

Already had a flu shot? Get another one

If you had a flu shot in our winter flu season you might still need to get another one for the Northern Hemisphere winter flu season because protection from the flu shot begins to fall after three or four months. 

It is safe to have another flu shot in the same year.

A flu shot is the best way to protect against flu, and having your protection up to date is particularly important for people at higher risk of flu complications, for example:

  • people aged 65 years and over
  • pregnant women
  • children under 5 years
  • Aboriginal people
  • people with chronic health conditions, such as severe asthma, diabetes or heart disease.

Don’t wait until you’re there

Getting a flu shot while you’re overseas can be a hassle, may be expensive, and you won’t be protected until two weeks afterwards. It’s not worth the risk to wait.

Reduce your risk of flu and complications

Get a flu shot

It's best to get your flu shot at least two weeks before you go. If you are just about to leave it is still fine to get a flu shot - it will just take a little time for your protection to fully develop.

Talk to your GP or travel clinic - they may need to make a special order to get the flu vaccine in for you.

Have a response plan

If you have an underlying health condition that could be made worse by flu, have a response plan and any additional medications you will need, particularly if you are travelling to a less developed country. Talk to your GP or travel clinic for information and advice.

Don't spread the flu

If you do get the flu, make sure you take steps to limit the spread:

  • clean your hands frequently
  • cover your coughs and sneezes
  • stay at home or in the hotel while you have symptoms.

Some types of travel make the spread of flu more likely, such as travelling in large tourist groups or on cruises (especially those including older people).

For more information, refer to the Influenza outbreaks in travel groups fact sheet.​​

Page Updated: Monday 21 October 2019
Contact page owner: Communicable Diseases