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. To find out more about the symptoms of flu visit the NHS website (opens in a new window).
What causes flu?
Flu is caused by influenza viruses that infect the windpipe and lungs. And because it’s caused by viruses and not bacteria, antibiotics won’t treat it.
How do you catch flu?
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they spread the flu virus in tiny droplets of saliva over a wide area. These droplets can then be breathed in by other people or they can be picked up by touching surfaces where the droplets have landed.
How do we protect against flu?
The flu vaccine provides the best protection available against a virus that can cause severe illness. The most likely viruses that will cause flu are identified in advance of the flu season and vaccines are then made to match them as closely as possible. The vaccines are given in the autumn ideally before flu starts circulating. During the last ten years the vaccine has generally been a good match for the circulating strains.
Who should consider having a flu vaccination?
Flu can affect anyone but if you have a long-term health condition the effects of flu can make it worse even if the condition is well managed and you normally feel well. You should have the free flu vaccine if:
- you work in health or a social care setting (this is anyone who regularly has contact with vulnerable people) - please note you may be asked to provide evidence where you work
- you are pregnant
- you have a long-term condition such as
- a heart problem
- a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including bronchitis, emphysema or severe asthma
- a kidney disease
- lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
- liver disease
- had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
- a neurological condition (for example: multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy or learning disability)
- a problem with your spleen (for example: sickle cell disease, or you have had your spleen removed)
- you are seriously overweight (BMI of 40 and above)
- you are aged 65 years or over
- you are living in a residential or nursing home
- you are the main carer of an older or disabled person
- you are a household contact of an immunocompromised person
- all two and three year old children (provided they were aged two or three years old on 31 August of the current flu season)
- all primary school aged children
If you don't meet the criteria for a free flu vaccination, please note you can still protect yourself and those around you by visiting your local pharmacy and paying for the flu vaccination. Prices vary so it may be worth shopping around.
Where can you get the flu jab in Worcestershire?
Flu vaccination will be provided by your GP via flu clinics held in your practice or your local pharmacy. Please download the list of pharmacies in Worcestershire who are providing flu vaccinations.
If you don't live in Worcestershire visit NHS Pharmacy Finder (opens in a new window) to find your local pharmacy.
Work in social care?
For those working in a care home or health and care environment, where there are many vulnerable people, it is incredibly important to have the free flu vaccine. It not only helps to protect you and your immediate family, but also helps to protect the people you support. We have produced a Flu Campaign Toolkit for Social Care which provides information about how to promote the flu vaccination to staff as well as addressing some of the worries people have about having the flu vaccination.
Breaking myths around flu
Here is a text version of the video:
Myth. Flu isn’t such a big deal.
Fact. On average 8,000 people die of flu in England every year, some years that figure reaches 14,000.
Myth. The flu vaccine gives you flu.
Fact. The adult flu jab doesn’t contain live virus so it’s impossible to get the flu from it.
Myth. Eating well and washing my hands will protect me from the flu.
Fact. Hand washing and a healthy diet are both beneficial, but the vaccine is the single most effective protection against flu.
Myth. You must avoid other people after your flu jab because you’ll be infectious. The flu vaccine gives you flu.
Fact. The vaccine cannot give you flu so you won’t be infectious. You can carry on as normal.
Myth. It’s only old people who need the flu jab.
Fact. Anyone can have the flu jab and it’s especially recommended for social care workers and people who are vulnerable.
If you work in health and social care, having your flu jab not only protects you, but also those around you.