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Seasonal Flu

Flu is a highly infectious and very common viral illness that is spread by coughs and sneezes. It's not the same as the common cold. Find out here how to protect yourself and others.
Doctor with patient

Seasonal flu is not the same as the common cold.

It can result in serious complications which require hospital treatment and can have devastating consequences.

More people died from flu and pneumonia than those who died with breast cancer or prostate cancer in 2009.

Last year’s winter flu outbreak resulted in more than 600 deaths in the UK, and thousands more people died with flu as a contributory factor.

Protect yourself - have your flu jab

It's not just people over 65 who should be vaccinated against flu.

The flu jab is free and recommended for people who:

  • are pregnant
  • have long term conditions, including diabetes, asthma, heart disease and multiple sclerosis
  • are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
  • are over 65

Check if you should have the free flu jab (NHS Choices).

Do you know the facts?

Some people are put off having the flu vaccine because of things they have heard, such as 'the vaccine gives you flu' or 'you only need it if you're old' - but it doesn't and it is not just older people that need to have the vaccine to protect themselves.

So what is true?

Flu is just a bad cold and I can fight it off.

Just not true! Although some of the symptoms are similar to a cold, if you catch flu, you're likely to feel much worse.

Flu can give you a headache, high temperature, dry cough, sore throat, runny nose and can make you ill for many weeks.

Some people with flu develop very serious complications, and may need hospital treatment.

I feel healthy and have never had flu, so I don't need the vaccine.

Yes you do! For most people flu is quite nasty, but for some people it can have some very serious complications, which are even more dangerous for people with other medical conditions.

Everyone who is eligible for the free seasonal flu vaccine should have it.

The seasonal flu vaccine isn't safe.

This year’s seasonal flu jabs have been tested and approved for use across the UK and in Europe. The jab cannot give you flu because it doesn't contain any active viruses.

The Department of Health recommends that everyone who is eligible for a seasonal flu jab should have it as soon as the vaccine is available.

If you are in an at-risk group and do not have the jab, you will have a greater risk of developing serious complications or even dying if you get flu this winter.

Read more frequently asked questions about the seasonal flu vaccine (NHS Choices).

What to do if you still have questions

If you would like more information or want to check if you are eligible for the vaccine, you can: