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Winter flu

GPs will now be inviting patients in ‘at risk’ categories, including people with severe egg allergies, to get the seasonal flu vaccine and protect themselves and their loved ones. Contact your GP surgery to find out about their Flu Vaccination Programme.

The flu vaccination programme is supported by a mass multi-media campaign that includes TV, radio, press and online advertising, and emphasises the seriousness of flu and the illnesses it can cause.

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Symptoms of flu

If you’ve got flu, you’re likely to develop some or all of the following symptoms:

  • a sudden fever, with a high temperature (generally above 38°C/100°F)
  • a chill
  • a severe headache
  • muscle aches and pains
  • a sense of feeling weak and tired
  • a dry cough
  • a sore throat

Flu symptoms usually peak after two or three days and you should begin to feel much better within five to eight days.

Prevent the spread of flu

There are simple steps that you can take to help prevent the spread of the flu virus. Remember, you should always:

  • carry tissues
  • use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • put the tissues in the bin as soon as possible
  • wash your hands regularly

What to do if you think you have flu

It’s important to remember that for the vast majority of people, flu is a mild illness that can be treated at home with rest, drinking plenty of fluids and taking medicine, such as paracetamol, as directed to control the symptoms.

You should not attend your GP or hospital Emergency Department unless it is absolutely necessary.

If symptoms don’t improve within two to three days, or if you have a high temperature and breathing difficulties, you should contact your GP or the GP out-of-hours service.

  • GP out of hours service
  • Your local doctor (GP)

Get the flu vaccine

The best way to protect yourself from flu is by getting the seasonal flu vaccine if it is offered to you. If you are eligible, you will be invited by your GP to receive the vaccine.

The flu vaccine is provided free to all those aged 65 years and over, and all those over six months old who are considered to be ‘at risk’ of suffering complications from flu and becoming very ill.

It is especially important for pregnant women to get the vaccine. Other people who are in ‘at risk’ groups include children and adults who suffer from any of the following:

  • chronic heart disease
  • chronic lung disease, like emphysema, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis or asthma
  • chronic kidney disease
  • a long-term condition like diabetes
  • chronic neurological disease such as a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) or cerebral palsy
  • a weak immune system – for example, from chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment for cancer, steroid treatment or HIV/Aids
  • any other serious medical condition

Others who will be offered the vaccine include:

  • children who have previously been admitted to hospital with a chest infection
  • those who live in a residential care or nursing home
  • those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person