What is flu?
Flu occurs every year, usually in the winter, which is why it is sometimes called seasonal flu. It is a very infectious disease that can come on very quickly. The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, cough, headache, pains in your joints and muscles and extreme tiredness. Healthy people usually recover within 3 to 4 weeks, but some people can develop serious life-threatening complications and need to be admitted to hospital.
Colds are much less serious and usually start with a stuffy or a runny nose, sore throat and cough.
How do we prevent the spread of flu?
Flu is unpredictable and there can be different strains of the virus. However, over the last ten years, the flu vaccine has generally been very good at targeting the circulating strains.
The flu vaccine is available every year on the NHS to help protect adults and children who are most at risk of flu and its complications.
The flu vaccine
The flu vaccine is the best available protection against the flu virus. It’s very safe, only takes a few minutes and will last around a year.
Flu is more than a bad cold and can make people very unwell. It is highly infectious with symptoms that come on quickly and can hit anyone. In the most serious cases, flu can bring on pneumonia, or other serious infections which can, in extreme cases, result in death.
The vaccine is offered each winter flu season, which lasts from October to March.
Who should get the flu vaccine?
Any strain of flu can be dangerous for people who are vulnerable to it. That is why the following people are urged to get the free flu vaccine as soon as it’s available every winter to help protect against flu:
- People with a health condition
- People aged 65 years or over
- Pregnant women
- People that work in healthcare
- Unpaid carers and young carers
For information on the child flu vaccine, please visit the child flu page
What if I’m not in one of the eligible groups?
If you’re 16 years old, or over, and not in one of the eligible groups for the free flu immunisation, you can get the vaccine in many high street pharmacies for a small fee.
What to do if I have flu?
Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include symptoms such as:
- fever (temperature above 38°C)
- tiredness or exhaustion
More about the symptoms of flu
These will now be organised by the Health Board, and will be done in a community clinic, rather than at your GP practice.
You will be sent an invitation advising of where and when you are to attend, and a number to call should you need to change your appointment.