The Flu and you: what do you need to know
The Flu is a common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes. It can be very unpleasant, but you’ll usually begin to feel better within about a week.
It’s not the same as the common cold.
Some of the main symptoms of flu include:
- a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
- tiredness and weakness
- a headache
- general aches and pains
- a dry, chesty cough
Cold-like symptoms – such as a blocked or runny nose, sneezing, and a sore throat – can also be caused by flu, but they tend to be less severe than the other symptoms you have.
Preventing the spread of flu
You can help stop yourself catching flu or spreading it to others with good hygiene measures.
Always wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water, as well as:
- regularly cleaning surfaces such as your computer keyboard, telephone and door handles to get rid of germs
- using tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
- putting used tissues in a bin as soon as possible
The flu vaccine
A flu vaccine is available for free on the NHS for:
- anyone over the age of 65
- pregnant women
- children and adults with an underlying health condition
- Asthma, COPD, emphysema
- Chronic heart disease, heart failure
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic liver disease, hepatitis
- Motor neurone disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease
- HIV and AIDS
- Severely weakened immune systems
- Undergoing chemotherapy
- Have a body mass index (BMI) over 40.
If you are not sure if you meet then criteria then ask your GP.
- children and adults with weakened immune systems
Frontline health/ NHS staff can also have the vaccine but their employer must pay for it.
You may also be offer a free vaccination if you receive carers allowance.
An annual flu vaccine nasal spray is also offered to healthy children aged two and three, and to children in reception class and school years one, two, three and four.
Children aged 2 and 3 will be vaccinated at the GP.
Children who are school aged will be vaccinated at school.
The best time to have the vaccine is in the autumn, from the beginning of October to early November. If you think you might need it, contact your local GP surgery.
You should have the flu vaccination every year so you stay protected, as the viruses that cause flu change every year.
If you have an Egg allergy then you need to ask you GP if an egg free vaccine is available this year and they may send you to a specialist at the hospital for the vaccination.