Ngā whanonga hauora Healthy habits

There are simple things you and your whānau can do to stop the spread of infectious diseases and illnesses at home, school, or your workplace.

Immunise against infectious diseases

Immunisation is a way of preventing infectious diseases. Immunisations are offered to pēpi (babies), tamariki (children) and adults to protect against serious and preventable diseases.

Vaccines given in Aotearoa New Zealand

It is important to make sure you are up to date with your immunisations. Check with your healthcare provider,doctor or nurse to see if you have had all your immunisations.

Catching up on missed immunisations

The National Immunisation Schedule has a list of free immunisations and the ages at which they are recommended.

National Immunisation Schedule

Keep your hands clean

Washing or sanitising your hands is one of the easiest ways to keep yourself and others safe. By keeping your hands clean, you can prevent the spread of germs and viruses. This is especially important if you are visiting people at higher risk. 

Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Then dry your hands completely.

Using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser is also effective at killing germs and viruses. If using hand sanitiser, make sure you use enough product to cover your hands, rub it in and allow it to dry.

You should wash or sanitise your hands if you have been in a public place, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

If your hands are clean, avoid touching your face, including your eyes, nose or mouth.

Stay at home if you are sick

It is important to stay at home if you are unwell to stop the spread of the infection to others. 

Keep your distance from other members of your household to stop them getting ill as well. 

An information sheet on common infectious diseases, how they are spread, and signs and symptoms is available on the HealthEd website

Infectious diseases — HealthEd (external link)

You can find information about common viruses and infections in our Conditions and treatments section.

Conditions and treatments

If someone in your home is unwell 

If someone you live with in your home gets sick, it is a good idea for them to stay in 1 room or area until they are well.

Wear a mask if you need to care for them, and if possible, get them to wear a mask while they are unwell.

If you have an unwell child

Read more about common childhood illnesses on the KidsHealth website. 

KidsHealth (external link)

Who to contact if you need medical advice

If you have symptoms you are worried about, or are concern about your or your child's health:

  • contact your usual doctor or healthcare provider
  • call Healthline for free advice 0800 611 116
  • call 111 for an ambulance in an emergency.

Wear a face mask

Face masks can help reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and flu. Masks are a way we can protect ourselves and others.

It is recommended you wear a face mask when visiting healthcare services and they are also encouraged to be worn when in closed, crowded and confined spaces, with poor ventilation.

A well–fitting face mask can help stop particles from spreading or being breathed in when someone speaks, laughs, coughs or sneezes. Non-valved respirator-type masks such as P2/N95, KN95 or FFP2 masks also help prevent you from breathing in viruses.

Face masks

Cover coughs and sneezes

Some infectious diseases can be transferred in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Examples include flu, measles and chicken pox.

If you are unwell, avoid close contact with other people. Cover your coughs and sneezes to stop spreading the illness to other people.

Improve ventilation

Good ventilation helps remove respiratory virus particles in the air. It's recommended that you let in fresh air every day, including after someone visits your home, shop or office.

If you can, partly open a window about 5cm for most of the day. Or open windows for at least 15 minutes as often as possible, if it is safe to do so.

If your windows do not open, or you cannot open them safely, and you have a ventilation system, check if your ventilation system filters (cleans) the air.


Keep household surfaces clean

Some infectious diseases and illnesses can be spread by touching a surface or object that has been contaminated by an infected person.

Regularly cleaning household surfaces that are frequently touched will help reduce the spread of infections. Some examples of frequently used surfaces include tables, bench tops, door handles, light switches, toys and taps.

Clean surfaces with hot soapy water or your normal household cleaning product. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on correct product use.

Where possible, use disposable cloths or paper towels to clean surfaces. Reusable cloths should be disinfected and then dried after use, as bacteria and viruses can still survive on damp cloths.

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