Flu and the flu vaccine

Flu is a highly infectious illness that spreads rapidly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are carrying the virus. 

If you're at risk of complications from flu, make sure you have your annual flu vaccine, available each year usually from October onwards.

There are two types of flu vaccine:

The effects of flu

Flu symptoms can hit quite suddenly and severely. They usually include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles. You can often get a cough and sore throat.

Because flu is caused by a virus and not bacteria, antibiotics won't treat it.

Anyone can get flu, but it can be more serious for certain people, such as:

  • People aged 65 or over
  • People who have a serious medical condition
  • Pregnant women

If you are in one of these groups, you're more vulnerable to the effects of flu (even if you're fit and healthy) and could develop flu complications, which are more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, which could result in hospitalisation.

Flu can also make existing medical conditions worse.

Read more about flu.

Children and the flu

The flu is caused by a virus that be a very unpleasant illness for children. It can also lead to serious problems, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. 

It's also very easy for children to spread flu very easily. Vaccinating your child helps protect them and protect others who might be vulnerable to flu, such as babies and older people. 

The children's flu vaccine is safe and effective. It is offered every year in the form of a nasal spray to help protect children against flu. 

Public Health England has developed lots of useful literature about the children's flu vaccine:

 If you need an the leaflet or poster in an alternative language, Public Health England have translated the literature into Braille, Punjabi, Polish, Gujarati, Urdu and many other languages. 

See below for a Makaton video about why you should get the flu vaccine.

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