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With the cold weather settled in, COVID variants circulating and the flu re-emerging, it’s important than ever to look after your health this winter. Get your flu shot, be up to date with your COVID vaccination, know where to get help, wear a mask and do the other things we know can keep us well.

Doing this will help keep you and your friends, family, and community well, and protect a health system which is under pressure.

What you need to know

  • To stay well this winter, get your influenza (also commonly referred to as the flu) shot as soon as possible and keep your COVID vaccinations up to date.
  • You can get your flu shot and COVID vaccination at the same time.
  • The flu vaccine is free for people who are more at-risk from suffering complications from the flu.
  • Stay at home if you’re unwell – don’t go to work or school.
  • Most people can safely recover from the flu and COVID at home.
  • Keeping your distance from others, hand hygiene, good ventilation and mask wearing are still the best ways to avoid getting sick.
  • See your doctor before you are sick so they can help you make a treatment plan. This will help you get the right care, if and when you need it.
  • Your doctor is the best person to help you if you are unwell.

Protect yourself from the flu and COVID

The flu and COVID circulate all year round but winter is particularly bad for the spread of illness.

You can help yourself stay well by:

  • Keeping 1.5 metre distance between yourself and other people
  • Washing or sanitising your hands often
  • Coughing or sneezing into your elbow
  • Wearing a mask
  • Ensuring there is good ventilation.
  • Masks offer good protection against COVID and can also help protect you from other respiratory illnesses like the flu.

If you can, see your doctor to talk about the best care for you if you get COVID or the flu this winter. This will help you get the right care, if and when you need it. Some people are eligible for antiviral medicines that can reduce the risk of people with COVID or the flu getting so sick they need to go to hospital. For these medicines to work best, they need to be taken within 5 days after symptoms appear. Find out more from your doctor.

One of the best ways to stay well this winter is to have your flu shot and stay up to date with your COVID vaccinations.

You can get your flu shot or COVID vaccination from your pharmacist or doctor (GP). Pharmacists can administer the flu and COVID vaccine to anyone aged 5 years and over.

Flu vaccinations

Vaccination against the flu is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and over.

Getting your flu shot is easy and in Victoria is free for:

  • Children aged 6 months to less than 5 years
  • People aged 65 years old and over
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 6 months and over
  • Pregnant women – at any stage of pregnancy
  • People aged 6 months and older with medical conditions putting them at increased risk of severe flu and its complications.

Find out more information about flu shots online or speak with your doctor.

This information was originally published by the Better Health Channel, an initiative of the Victorian Government.

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