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Flu is a common respiratory infection caused by influenza (flu) viruses.

Flu viruses (germs) are very easily spread to other people. You can spread the flu germ even if you don't have symptoms yourself. Follow NHS advice if you think you have Flu.

People will often get better on their own following infection with flu, but it can make some people seriously ill.

If you have flu symptoms stay at home if you can, to help avoid spreading germs to others.

There are lots of steps you can take to help prevent catching and spreading flu:

  • wash your hands often with warm water and soap
  • use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin as soon as possible
  • cough into your elbow instead of your hands
  • stay at home if you are unwell
  • regularly clean surfaces that you touch
  • get your flu vaccine when it's offered

The flu vaccine is effective at reducing the risk of catching and passing on the flu germ. It can reduce your chances of becoming seriously ill and needing care in a hospital.

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

Flu vaccine

Certain groups are offered the flu jab, as they're at an increased risk of becoming unwell if they catch flu.

Find out more about who can get the flu vaccinationduring the Flu season (autumn / winter).

Children's flu vaccine

GPs invite all 2 and 3-year-old children to have a flu vaccination.

This vaccine, like all other routine childhood vaccines is free, so you do not need to pay.

The flu vaccination is also offered to all primary school pupils and some secondary school aged children. It's delivered in school.

Vaccines during pregnancy

During pregnancy you may not be as able to fight off infections as easily as non-pregnant women. This could lead to you becoming more seriously ill.

It's recommended that pregnant women have a flu vaccine as well as the COVID-19, and whooping cough vaccine.

If you have any questions about vaccinations in pregnancy, please discuss this with your midwife.

Health and social care staff

If you work in health or social care, you can get a free flu vaccination.

It's important to take up this offer if you can, as vaccination provides the best protection for you, your loved ones and those you care from becoming unwell from flu infection.

Where to get a free flu vaccine

If you're eligible for the free flu vaccine you may get it from your own GP practice, or any pharmacy offering NHS flu vaccinations.

You can book or manage a free flu vaccination at a pharmacy.