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Flu

Flu is a common infectious disease caused by influenza (flu) viruses.

Flu is very infectious and easily spread to other people. You're more likely to give it to others in the first 5 days. There are several steps you can take to help prevent flu spreading.

To reduce the risk of spreading flu:

  • wash your hands often with warm water and soap
  • use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
  • bin used tissues as quickly as possible

Do not visit healthcare facilities to visit relatives if you have the symptoms of flu. Flu can be fatal to people who are already poorly.

Free flu jab

Certain groups of people are eligible for a free flu jab. These include people:

  • who are 65 and over (including those who'll be 65 by 31 March 2021)
  • have certain health conditions
  • are pregnant
  • are in a long-stay residential care
  • receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • live with someone who's at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)
  • frontline health or social care workers

Find out more about the flu vaccination on the NHS website.

Waits for flu vaccine

Overall there is enough flu vaccine for everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated before the flu season starts, which is usually in December. Flu vaccine is delivered to GP practices, pharmacies and other services in batches in the run up to and over flu season.

In 2020, early demand for flu vaccine has been higher than usual. This has meant that while a lot of people have been able to get vaccinated, some people have not been able to get vaccinated straight away as some GP practices and pharmacies have used their early supplies of flu vaccine, due to the level of demand.

If you're eligible and haven't been able to get your vaccination yet, you'll still be able to have it before flu season starts.

The priority this year is to vaccinate those who are most at risk from flu first, including people of all ages who have a health condition that makes them more at risk from flu.

Other 50 to 64 year olds (who do not have a health condition that puts them at risk from flu) will be offered the vaccine later on and should wait to be invited for a vaccination.

Where to get a free flu vaccine

If you're eligible for the free flu vaccine, you may get it either from your own GP practice or any pharmacy offering NHS flu vaccinations. They should be able to tell you when they expect to be able to offer you a vaccine. Pregnant women can ask their maternity provider for the free flu vaccine and some of those visiting hospitals, either as in-patients or out-patients, may also be offered the flu vaccine there.

Types of flu vaccine

There are several types of flu vaccines available. You'll be offered one that is recommended for you based on your age. This means some people will be offered a flu vaccine that is in stock while others, who need a different type of vaccine, may have to wait.

Providers of flu vaccination services are required to offer the vaccine that is most effective for you. It's better to wait to get the right vaccine so that you get the most benefit from it.

NHS or social care staff

If you're a member of NHS or social care staff then please make sure you're vaccinated against flu. People can pass on flu without having symptoms of their own and vaccination is the best protection for you and the people you care for.

If you're a member of NHS or social care staff then please make sure you're vaccinated against flu. People can pass on flu without having symptoms of their own and vaccination is the best protection for you and the people you care for.

Flu will usually sort itself out, although you'll feel very ill for a few days. However, it can be very dangerous for vulnerable people.

Read about the symptoms of flu and what to do about it.

Flu can be very serious for some people. If you develop sudden chest pain, have difficulty breathing, or start to cough up blood then tel: 999 or go to accident and emergency (A&E).

‘Protecting your child from flu’ is now available to download in audio from the health publications.

Protecting your child from flu is also available in braille on demand from the health publications website.

The 'Protecting your child from flu' leaflet is available in a variety of languages including Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Gujarati, Hindi, Polish, and Urdu.