How can I tell if I have the flu or a cold?

A cold virus only affects the nose, throat and the upper chest and lasts for a few days. Influenza is a serious illness that affects the whole body and can last up to a week or more.


  • Sudden onset of illness, moderate to severe illness
  • Fever (usually high)
  • Headache (may be severe)
  • Dry cough, may become moist
  • Muscle aches
  • Shivering
  • Bed rest necessary

A cold

  • Mild illness
  • Mild fever
  • Mild headache (congested sinuses)
  • Sometimes a cough
  • Muscle aches are uncommon
  • A runny nose

Where do I get the flu shot/ vaccination from?

Flu shots are available for anyone for a fee from a doctor, nurse or some pharmacists or you may qualify to get it for free. Check in with your GP team or if you’re not enrolled with a GP, check out the list of pharmacies providing it in Canterbury.

Can I get the flu shot for free?

Flu immunisation is free for Canterbury residents from your doctor, nurse or qualified vaccinating pharmacist from April till the end of December, if you’re in one of these groups:

• Anyone aged 65 years or over

• Pregnant women (any stage of pregnancy)

• People aged under 65 who have a long-term health condition such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease (including asthma that requires regular preventive therapy), kidney disease and most cancers.

Flu immunisation is free for Canterbury residents from a doctor or nurse only if you’re in one of these groups:

• Children aged four and under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness.

Who can get a flu shot?

Anyone from six months old can be given an influenza vaccine.

How much does the flu shot cost?

There is no set price so you’re best to check in with your GP team or qualified vaccinating pharmacists.

What should I do if I think I have the flu?

• Call your GP for advice rather than visit if you think you may have the flu and stay away from the hospital unless it’s an emergency

• Stay away from work or school if you’re sick

• Cover coughs and sneezes – use a tissue or sneeze or cough into your inner elbow if you’re caught short

• Clean your hands often

The Ministry of Health website has more details on caring for yourself and others (including babies and children) if you are infected.

Download the Coping with Flu at Home brochure for more detailed tips.