Flu facts

Flu long term conditions jpegFlu is much worse than a heavy cold

A bad bout of flu is much worse than a heavy cold. Flu symptoms come on suddenly and sometimes severely. They include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles, as well as a cough and sore throat.

You're likely to spend 2 or 3 days in bed. If you get complications caused by flu, you could become seriously ill and have to go to hospital.

You need to have the flu vaccine every year

The viruses that cause flu can change every year, so you need a vaccination that matches the new viruses each year. The vaccine usually provides protection for the duration of that year's flu season.

Is the flu vaccine safe in pregnancy?

Yes. Studies have shown that it's safe to have the flu vaccine during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to your expected due date.
Women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.
It's safe for women who are breastfeeding to have the vaccine.

Even if you think you've had flu, you should still have the vaccination

If you're in one of the "at risk" groups you should still get the vaccine.
As flu is caused by several viruses, the immunity you naturally developed will only protect you against one of them – you could go on to catch another strain, so it's recommended you have the vaccine even if you've recently had flu. Also, what you thought was flu could have been something else.

It's not too late to have the flu vaccine in November

You should take up the offer of the flu vaccine when it becomes available, with the best time to have it from the beginning of October to the end of November.

Vitamin C can't prevent flu

Many people think that taking daily vitamin C supplements will stop them getting flu, but there's no evidence to prove this.

How can I protect myself, my family and those around me from the flu?

Flu is very infectious and the virus can live on hands and hard surfaces for up to 24 hours. This is why it is important to “Catch it, Bin it, Kill it” - “Catch” any sneezes in a tissue, “Bin” any tissues immediately and “Kill” the virus by washing your hands with soap and warm water. Avoid contact with sick people and wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
If you are unwell, look after yourself, drink plenty of fluids and stay at home so you don’t spread flu to others.

The vaccine remains the best defence we have to protect against the spread of flu and we encourage everyone eligible to get it each year.

There is further information at www.nhs.uk