It is important to have your free flu vaccination if you are eligible
The flu virus strikes in winter and can be far more serious than you think. The virus is extremely infectious and can lead to serious complications.
What is flu? Isn’t it just a heavy cold? How will I know I’ve got it?
Flu occurs every year, usually in the winter, which is why it’s sometimes called seasonal flu. It’s a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very quickly. Colds are much less serious and usually start gradually with a stuffy or runny nose and a sore throat. A bad bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold.
The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness. Healthy individuals usually recover within two to seven days, but for some the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.
How do you catch flu and can I avoid it?
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they spread the flu virus in tiny droplets of saliva over a wide area. These droplets can then be breathed in by other people or they can be picked up by touching surfaces where the droplets have landed.
You can prevent the spread of the virus by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and you can wash your hands frequently or use hand gels to reduce the risk of picking up the virus. But the best way to avoid catching and spreading flu is by having the vaccination before the flu season starts.
Who should consider having a flu vaccination?
• a heart problem
• a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including bronchitis, emphysema or severe asthma
• a kidney disease
• lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
• liver disease
• had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
• a neurological condition, eg multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy or learning disability
• a problem with your spleen, eg sickle cell disease, or you have had your spleen removed
• are seriously overweight.
Those who are:
• aged 65 years or over
• living in a residential or nursing home
• the main carer of an older or disabled person
• a household contact of an immunocompromised person
• a frontline health or social care worker
• children of a certain age
Please click here for more information on the flu vaccine.
For adults and children not entitled to free flu vaccinations, please visit your local pharmacist for further information.
Further information can be found at www.nhs.uk/staywell