Protect yourself against flu this Winter
Flu can be a serious and nasty illness, especially for the elderly or people with health conditions.
In the most severe cases, it can lead to hospitalisation and even death.
Flu and Covid
Before the pandemic, the annual flu jab drive every autumn was a key part of the NHS’s vaccination programme.
In the past two years, more people than ever have been able to get a free flu jab. This was to offer extra protection against people getting seriously ill from contracting two respiratory illness – covid and flu – at the same time.
High flu vaccine uptake in 2020 and 2021, combined with covid restrictions (masks, social distancing, and lockdowns) reduced the chances for flu to spread, meaning total cases were lower than before.
This year, with covid measures no longer in place, and lower natural immunity throughout our communities, an increase in flu cases this winter cannot be ruled out.
To combat this, the NHS will again offer free flu jabs to the same expanded groups as in the past two years.
The biggest additional groups are the 50-64 age range, and secondary school-aged children in Years 7, 8 and 9.
As with the rollout of the covid vaccine, those more at risk of getting seriously ill from flu will be offered the vaccine first.
The table below shows full eligibility for both the flu and autumn booster covid vaccines.
|Group||Covid Autumn Booster||Flu Vaccine|
|Residents and Staff in Care Homes for Older Adults||Yes||Yes|
|Frontline health and social care workers||Yes||Yes|
|All people aged 65+ (or will be 65 by 31/03/23)||Yes||Yes|
|All people aged 50-64 (or will be 65 by 31/03/23)||Yes||Yes, from October|
|Carers aged 16+||Yes||Yes|
|Clinically at risk, aged 5+||Yes||Yes|
|Clinically at risk, aged six months+||No||Yes|
|All children aged 2-3||No||Yes|
|All Primary School aged children (Reception to Year 6)||No||Yes, through schools, youngest first|
|All Secondary School aged children (years 7-9)||No||Yes, through schools, youngest first|
Flu is a respiratory illness, meaning it affects your breathing – your nose, mouth and sometimes lungs.
It’s highly contagious and passes from person to person easily through droplets in the air when we speak, cough or sneeze.
Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention
People with flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their symptoms first appear. Common symptoms include:
- Sort throat
- Runny or stuff nose
- Fever or chills
- Muscle or body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhoea (more common in children)
If you have flu, you should make sure you rest, keep warm and stay hydrated. You can also take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature or help with aches and pains.
Your local pharmacist can offer advice and recommend remedies if your symptoms persist. If you still see no improvement after that, only then should you contact your GP.
Because flu passes so easily between people, if you do have symptoms try to stay away from others and cover your mouth when you cough, throw away tissues and regularly wash your hands.
Why get vaccinated?
Vaccines work by training our body’s response to illnesses. The effect is that your resistance becomes higher, so you are less likely to get the illness, and if you do, your body will be able to deal with it better.
Vaccines protect you and people around you.
While flu is mild for most people, for those who are older or have weakened immune systems, it can be very serious. It brings the risk of complications such as pneumonia, or conditions people already have getting worse.
Every winter the NHS comes under more pressure as people get seasonal, respiratory illnesses. Covid has significantly increased this pressure.
Getting vaccinated against flu, and taking precautions if you do get ill, also helps to protect the NHS as well.