Flu (Influenza)

Flu, or influenza, is a common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes.

Flu will often get better on its own, but it can make some people seriously ill.

If you are at increased risk from coronavirus, you are also more at risk of problems from flu. Research shows that if you get both viruses at the same time, you are more likely to be seriously ill. 

Cold weather can make some health problems worse and even lead to serious complications, especially if you are 65 or older, or if you have a long-term health condition.

Find out more about keeping you and your family well this winter (NHS).

Preventing the spread of flu

You can help stop yourself catching flu or spreading it to others with good hygiene measures:

  • Make sure you wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water. Find out the best way to wash your hands.
  • Clean surfaces such as your keyboard, telephone and door handles regularly to get rid of germs.
  • Use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Put used tissues in a bin as soon as possible.

Telling the difference between cold and flu.

Flu vaccine

The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It is offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications. It is important to get the flu vaccine if you are advised to.

The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn before flu starts spreading. The vaccine is available from September onwards each year. 

Am I eligible for a free flu vaccination?

The flu vaccine is given to people who:

  • are 50 years old and over
  • have certain health conditions
  • are pregnant
  • are children of school age
  • 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 is at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)
  • are frontline health or social care workers.

Where can I get my free flu vaccination?

You can have the NHS flu vaccine at: 

  • your GP surgery
  • a pharmacy offering the service
  • your midwifery service if you’re pregnant.