Flu facts and how to protect yourself

Don't let the flu get you!

Both Covid-19 and flu will be around at the same time this winter. You don’t want to come down with either – or both.

The flu vaccine won’t protect you against Covid, and vice versa, so if eligible you’ll need both vaccines this winter for the best protection against both viruses.

What exactly is flu?

Influenza (flu) is a serious disease caused by a virus. It’s not just a bad cold! Sometimes, flu can develop into something worse and it kills thousands of people each year.

How it spreads:

  • through coughs and sneezes
  • by touching things like door handles, then touching your face
  • directly through saliva or nose secretions (snot!)

That’s why it’s important to wash your hands properly and ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ using a tissue. If you don’t have a tissue handy, use the inside of your elbow!

How can I avoid getting flu?

Your best defence against flu is vaccination – you need one every year. It helps your immune system to fight off the virus, reducing your chances of getting flu and spreading it to other people.

If you do get flu, it will reduce the severity of your infection and reduce the chances of you having to go to hospital. It could save your life!

The flu vaccine is FREE for:

  • those aged 50 and over
  • pregnant women
  • those with a long-term health condition (e.g. diabetes, COPD, kidney, heart or lung disease)*
  • two and three year olds
  • pupils in Reception to Year 11
  • health and care workers
  • carers

* check with your GP if you’re eligible.

Reception to Year 11 pupils receive a flu nasal spray via their school health programme. Two and three year olds can have the nasal spray at their GP practice.

Anyone not entitled to a free vaccine can still get protected at their local pharmacy for £10 to £15.

Please wear a face covering during your vaccination appointment.

Can the vaccine give me flu?

No! The part of the flu virus which causes infection is destroyed so you can’t get flu from the vaccine. If you feel poorly afterwards, you may have picked up another virus – there are lots at this time of year.

If it’s genuine flu, you’ll know about it! Don’t take the risk – get vaccinated to protect yourself and others.

The children’s nasal spray can’t cause flu either. Some children might get a runny or blocked nose but this is mild in comparison to them having flu.

Protect your child

Flu germs spread very easily in small children.

The virus can cause a temperature, sore throat, stuffy nose, dry cough, aching muscles and extreme tiredness – and no one wants to see their child so poorly!

The best defence for your child is the FREE nasal spray. No injection is needed - the nasal spray is quick, painless and has an excellent safety record.

  • All children aged two to three years are entitled to the nasal spray at their GP practice. Book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.
  • Reception to Year 11 pupils receive the flu nasal spray through their school health programme.

The vaccine will help to protect not only your child against flu and serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia, but your loved ones and those close to you.

Plus a happy, healthy child means less disruption to everyday life: if your child gets flu, you may have to take time off work or arrange alternative childcare.

Pregnant women

Having flu while pregnant can put you and your unborn child at risk.

The risks of your baby being born prematurely, with a low birth weight or even stillborn are greater if you catch flu and develop complications. You could also end up seriously ill.

Protect yourself and your baby by getting the FREE flu vaccine. You will also pass on some protection to them in their first few months of life.

Speak to your midwife or your GP now.

Pregnant women are also advised to have the Covid-19 vaccine. Both can be taken at any stage of pregnancy.

I’ve got flu – what should I do?

  • stay at home and rest until you feel better
  • keep warm/drink plenty of water
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and to help with aches and pains
  • you should start to feel better after a week
  • antibiotics will not work against flu as it is a viral infection

Some symptoms of Covid-19 and flu are similar, so if you have a high temperature, a new continuous cough or you notice a change or loss in your sense of taste or smell, you must book a coronavirus PCR test.

Both are highly contagious so stay at home to avoid infecting others who may become more poorly than you. If you’re worried about symptoms, contact your GP online or by phone.

Easy read booklet

People with learning disabilities are more vulnerable to the flu virus and have a higher risk of developing complications as a result of the flu such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

People with learning disabilities are less likely to get the flu if they, and those who support them, get a flu vaccine.

If you have learning disabilities or support somebody who does, you can get the flu vaccine for free - call you GP surgery or local pharmacy to book an appointment.

An easy read booklet explaining the flu vaccination has been created for people with learning disabilities. It also includes advice for carers.



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