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Flu is a highly infectious and common viral illness that is spread by coughs and sneezes. It is not the same as the common cold. Flu is caused by a group of different group of viruses and symptoms tend to be more severe and last longer. You can catch flu all year round, but it is especially common in winter, which is why it is also known as ‘seasonal flu’.

Flu symptoms

Flu causes a sudden high temperature, headache and general aches and pains, tiredness and a sore throat. You can also lose your appetite, feel nauseous ad have a cough. Symptoms peak after two to three days and you should begin to feel much better after a week or so, although you may feel tired for much longer.

Flu will often get better on its own but it can make some people seriously ill, so it’s important to get the flu vaccine if you’re advised to.

Flu vaccinations

The flu vaccination is the best protection for you and those around you which is why it is offered for free for those most at risk. Adults at high risk from flu are also most at risk from Covid-19 and the free vaccine is more important than ever, to help protect the nation from a double threat this winter.

To find out if you are eligible for a free flu vaccine visit or ask your pharmacist or GP practice. If your child is at school and aged 4-11-year-old make sure you sign and return the consent form.

This year there has been a huge demand for the flu vaccine which means that you may need to wait. There is enough vaccine for everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated before the flu season starts, usually in December. Read more about why you may need to wait.

Useful links and resources

Visit for more information about flu including leaflets in alternative formats

Visit for information about flu symptoms, treatment, and how to get a vaccine

Download the leaflet ‘The flu vaccination – who should have it and why’

Download the easy read leaflet ‘All about flu and how to stop getting it’

Download the easy read leaflet ‘Protect yourself from flu’