The best way to prevent flu is by getting the vaccine. The free NHS flu vaccine is offered to people who are most at risk of getting flu. You should get the flu vaccine if you:
- Are 65 or over
- Are pregnant
- Have certain medical conditions
- Are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
- Receive a carer’s allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
Frontline health and social care workers are also eligible to receive the flu vaccine, but it is your employer’s responsibility to arrange and pay for the vaccine.
Some children are also eligible for the flu vaccine if they are:
- Over 6 months old and have a long-term health condition
- Aged between 2 and 3 years’ old
- Children in reception class and years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
Children who are eligible aged between 6 months and 2 years will receive an injected flu vaccine.
Children who are aged between 2 and 17 years will usually receive a flu vaccine nasal spray.
The viruses that cause flu change every year, so it is important to have a vaccination that matches the virus every year.
Avoid spreading the flu by:
- Washing your hands often and with soap
- Use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
- Bin used tissues as quickly as possible
You are most likely to give flu to other people in the first 5 days of infection.
Flu Symptoms can come on quickly and can include:
- A sudden fever – a temperature of 38°C or above
- Aching body
- Feeling tired or exhausted
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhoea or tummy pain
- Nausea and being sick
- Children may also get pain in their ear and appear less active
You can treat flu yourself by:
- Getting rest and sleep
- Keeping warm
- Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
Pharmacists can also give treatment advice and recommended flu remedies but be careful not to use flu remedies if you are taking paracetamol or ibuprofen as you may end up taking more than the recommended dose.
Call 111 or visit your GP if:
- You’re worried about your baby’s or child’s symptoms
- You’re 65 or over
- You’re pregnant
- You have a long term medical condition
- Have a weakened immune system
- Do not improve after 7 days
Call 999 or go to A&E if you:
- Develop sudden chest pains
- Have difficulty breathing
- Start coughing up blood