Winter respiratory alerts

Leading into winter, respiratory viruses like influenza, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are common in the community and illnesses can be easily spread.

Doing a few simple things can protect your child, family and the community this winter. It can also reduce the risk of catching or spreading viruses to others.

  • Get a flu shot. Book an appointment at our free flu vaccination clinic! We vaccinate children over 6-months, young people, and their parents and carers up to age 65.
  • Stay at home if unwell
  • Wash or sanitise your hands frequently, especially after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose and going to the toilet
  • Wash or sanitise common spaces and items that are frequently touched such as prams, carriers, kids toys etc.


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.

An influenza vaccine is the best way to protect your child from serious influenza. Children and babies six months or older need an influenza vaccine every year. 


Bronchiolitis is a viral infection that causes inflammation and congestion in the small airways of the lung. It is more common in winter.

Bronchiolitis affects babies under 12 months of age and usually begins as a cold.

Early bronchiolitis symptoms may include a runny or blocked nose, mild cough and slight fever. 

Coughing, wheezing and sometimes difficulty breathing can appear as the illness develops. Symptoms of bronchiolitis can last for several days to weeks.

Most children get better with care at home. Some children become acutely ill with bronchiolitis and require hospitalisation and equipment to support their breathing for a short while.

If you are worried please see your GP. If our child is having difficulty breathing, call 000 or go to the nearest Emergency Department.

Watch our video series

We sit down with Dr Matthew O’Meara, NSW’s Chief Paediatrician and Emergency Staff Specialist at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick to answer some of your questions in the videos below.

Watch more to learn about protecting your child from bronchiolitis

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is one of the viruses that can cause the common cold. However, it can also cause more serious infections in young children. RSV is very contagious, and is usually more common during autumn and winter, although its patterns of transmission have been changing in recent years.


COVID-19 continues to circulate in the community. Everyone in NSW is being asked to ensure they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations and to practice COVID-safe behaviours.

For the most up-to-date information visit the dedicated NSW Health coronavirus information page or see the NSW Health resources.

Signs of serious illness in children

You know your child best. You can recognise changes in mood, behaviour, activity and appetite that indicate your child may be developing an illness. If there are signs that your child is slightly unwell and you're not sure what you do, call HealthDirect.

If your child's health is getting worse, contact your family doctor. 

When should you be concerned?

  • decreased alertness and irritability
  • breathing difficulties 
  • changes in skin colour and appearance
  • drinking less than usual or not passing urine frequently 

You should seek help urgently if these features develop rapidly or occur together. 



Skin colour and appearance

Fluids in and out

  • vomiting with blood or green fluid 
  • urine or stool that contains blood. 


Seizures (fits)

This fact sheet is available to print in the following languages:

Multicultural resources

All Aboriginal people aged six months and over are eligible for a free flu vaccine and a free COVID-19 vaccine, though some providers may charge an administration or consultation fee - Ask your doctor or pharmacist if this applies to you. 

Flu in kids can be serious

This video is available in the following languages:

What to do if your child is sick

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