Influenza (Flu)


Flu is a common and very infectious viral illness that passes from person to person by coughing and sneezing. Flu can be caught at any time of the year but is more common in winter which is why it is often referred to as ‘seasonal flu’. It differs from the common cold, being more severe and long lasting - usually lasting between 2 and 7 days.

People over the age of 65 tend to have a less robust immune system and are therefore more susceptible to catching flu and are also more likely to develop complications from the virus.

There is a vaccine available for flu which helps to provide protection against the virus although it is not always effective. Each winter there is a new strain of the flu virus which is why the flu vaccine has to be given every year and not just as a one off like some other vaccinations. The annual flu vaccination is available between October and March each year and is given free of charge to people in the following high risk groups:
  • People aged 65 or over
  • Those with a chronic medical condition – including heart disease, emphysema, cystic fibrosis, kidney disease, liver disease and diabetes
  • People living in a nursing or care home
  • Carers of people who are at a higher risk of getting flu

The vaccine can take up to two weeks to provide protection but you can still catch flu even if you have had it so it is important to practice good hygiene, such as regularly washing your hands, to keep your risk of developing flu low.

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