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Seasonal flu

Flu is an illness caused by the influenza virus - it is an infectious disease of the upper air passages and can spread easily from person to person. Outbreaks of seasonal flu follow predictable seasonal patterns and occur annually, usually in winter. Unlike pandemic flu, you can be vaccinated to protect yourself from suffering from seasonal flu.

Recognising flu symptoms

If you've got flu you're likely to develop the following symptoms:

  • a sudden fever, with a high temperature (generally above 38°/100°F)
  • a chill
  • a severe headache
  • muscle aches and pains
  • a sense of feeling weak and tired
  • a dry cough
  • a sore throat

Who should get vaccinated

Each autumn, from September, the NHS provides a free flu vaccine for the over 65s and everyone, including children over six months of age, in the following clinical risk groups:

  • serious heart disease
  • serious lung disease, like emphysema, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis or asthma
  • serious kidney or liver disease
  • a long-term health problem, like diabetes
  • a weakened immune system - eg from chemotherapy, radiotherapy or steroid treatment or HIV/Aids

As the flu virus changes each year, the flu vaccine needs to match the latest version of the virus. This means that people need to have the jab every year.

If you live in a nursing/care home or similar long-term residential accommodation, you should talk to your nurse or the manager about getting a flu jab. Healthcare professionals directly involved in patient care should also be vaccinated.

Also, if you are the main carer for older or disabled people then you should ask your GP whether you should be vaccinated so that you can continue to look after them.

Additional links

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