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The flu vaccination

What is flu?

Flu occurs every year, usually in the winter, which is why it's sometimes called seasonal flu. It's a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very quickly. Colds are much less serious and usually start gradually with a stuffy or runny nose and a sore throat. A bad bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold. 

Common symptons

The most common symptons of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles and extreme tiredness. Healthy individuals usually recover within two to seven days, but for some the flu can be very serious and they will need urgent medical attention. 

The flu vaccine

The vaccine still provides the best protection available against an unpredictable virus that can cause severe illness. Even if you've had the flu vaccine before you won't be protected against the new strains of flu circulating. We strongly reccommend you have the vaccine every year. Almost everybody can have the vaccine, but you should not be vaccinated if you have ever had a serious alllergy to the vaccine or any of its ingredients. If you are allergic to eggs or have a condition that weakens your immune system, you may not be able to have certain types of flu vaccine - check with your GP. If you have a fever, the vaccination may be delayed until you are better. 

Consider having the flu vaccinations if you are:

  • Aged 65 years or over
  • living in a residential or nursing home
  • the main carer of an older disabled person
  • a household contact of an immunocompromised person
  • a frontline health or social care worker
  • children over 6 months or age
  • pregnant - having the vaccination when pregnant is beneficial and helps protect the baby from flu in the first few months of life.

For advice and information about the flu vaccination, speak to your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist. You can also visit the NHS Choices website.