Flu: vaccine, causes, treatment, and more

What is flu?

BSL Support

While flu is unpleasant for most people it can be very dangerous and even life threatening for some, particularly people with certain health conditions, older people and pregnant women. For these groups the flu can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, or can make existing conditions worse.

Dr Muhammad Naqvi, a local GP and Clinical Lead for Immunisations for NHS North East London, said:

“The flu is not the same as getting a cold. It can seriously affect your health and the risks of developing complications are greater for people within the ‘at-risk’ groups. The risks are also higher if you get flu and coronavirus at the same time.” 

Flu symptoms

Some of the main symptoms of flu include the below. Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include:

  • a sudden high temperature (fever)
  • tiredness and weakness
  • a headache
  • an aching body
  • a dry cough
  • a sore throat
  • difficulty sleeping
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea or tummy pain
  • feeling sick and being sick

Having the flu vaccine will reduce your risk of serious illness. Once vaccinated, you’re more likely to have milder symptoms and recover quicker if you do catch the viruses

Getting the flu vaccine

Flu vaccines are safe and effective. They are offered for free every year to some people. You can find out if you are eligible for a free flu vaccine here.

If you are not eligible for a free flu vaccine, you can still go to your GP or pharmacy and ask for the flu vaccine. It will cost you a small fee.

As well as protecting you and the people around you, vaccination also protects the NHS over winter by reducing the number of people that are likely to get seriously ill from catching a virus and needing to go to hospital

When to get the flu vaccine

Getting the flu vaccine ahead of winter is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself and others around you safe during the winter months.

The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn before the flu starts spreading. It is important that you get vaccinated as soon as possible to give yourself the best possible protection ahead of winter. The flu vaccine will also be offered into the winter months.

Where to go for more information