What is flu and how do I get the flu vaccine?

What is flu and how do I get the flu vaccine?

What is flu?  

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness that infects the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe symptoms. For some people, flu can be dangerous and even life-threatening.

Symptoms of the flu can come on quickly and can include a sudden, high temperature, body aches, and a sore throat or dry cough.

Flu in children can present with the same symptoms, but children may also experience ear pain and appear less active.

Who can have the flu vaccine?  

The flu vaccine is free on the NHS to people who are:

  • aged 65 years and over
  • aged 6 months to 64 in clinical risk groups
  • pregnant
  • aged 2 or 3 years on August 31, 2023
  • primary school-aged
  • in long-stay residential care homes
  • carers who receive carer's allowance
  • the primary carer of an older or disabled person
  • a close contact of someone who is has a weakened immune system
  • frontline workers in a social care setting without an employer-led occupational health scheme

How do you avoid catching or spreading flu?

Flu is very infectious and easily spread to other people. You're more likely to give it to others in the first five days.

To reduce the risk of spreading or catching flu, you should:

  • get the flu vaccine
  • wash your hands often with warm water and soap
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • bin used tissues as quickly as possible
  • strengthen your immune system with vitamins

Where can you get the flu vaccine?  

It's best to have your flu vaccine in the autumn or early winter before flu rates increase. If you're eligible for a free NHS flu vaccine, you can book an appointment at:  

  • your GP surgery
  • a local pharmacy offering NHS flu vaccines
  • some maternity services if you're pregnant  
  • a hospital that provides a vaccine service

You might also get an invitation to get vaccinated, but you don't need to wait for one.

You don't need to be registered with a GP or have an NHS number to get a vaccine. You may be asked to confirm your eligibility for the flu vaccine. No immigration checks are carried out when you receive the vaccine.  

Need more information?  

If you have more questions and queries about the flu vaccine and your eligibility, take a look at the below links.

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