What is Flu?

Flu is a common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes. It can be very unpleasant, but you'll usually begin to feel better within about a week.  You can catch flu – short for influenza – all year round, but it's especially common in winter, which is why it's also known as "seasonal flu". It's not the same as the common cold. Flu is caused by a different group of viruses and the symptoms tend to start more suddenly, be more severe and last longer. Some of the main symptoms of flu include:

Cold-like symptoms – such as a blocked or runny nose, sneezing, and a sore throat – can also be caused by flu, but they tend to be less severe than the other symptoms you have.

Flu can make you feel so exhausted and unwell that you have to stay in bed and rest until you feel better.

I have flu symptoms should I see a GP?

Some people are at particular risk of severe illness like pneumonia if they catch flu. If you are concerned about your symptoms or they are getting worse, especially if you have one of the conditions that put you at risk of complications, contact your GP.

Am I in an at risk group?

The following list shows conditions that mean you could be more at increased risk of severe illness if you catch flu:

Should I get the flu vaccine?

Yes - The purpose of the flu vaccination is to protect people from severe illness. Every year thousands of people are admitted to hospital due to flu and the complications of flu. The best way to protect you and your family is to get the flu vaccination. Vaccinations are available in pharmacies, supermarket pharmacies and GP’s and are free if you are:


Where can I get the flu vaccine?

If you are eligible for a free NHS flu vaccine and are not a child receiving it in school, you can either go to your GP or for adults only you can choose to have the vaccine at one of the many participating pharmacies across West Yorkshire. To locate a pharmacy please visit: Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire|External link


Can I still have a vaccine if I am not eligible for a free NHS one?

You can still get the flu vaccine, but you will need to pay for it. Most pharmacies offer the flu vaccine, including those in supermarkets.


Why do carers and care staff need to be vaccinated against flu?

Vaccinating carers prevents them from catching flu. This is important because as well as becoming a source of infection to others, the health of the person cared for may suffer if their carer is unwell.

The vaccination is free to unpaid carers / those in receipt of the carers allowance. Health and social care staff should be vaccinated through their work.


Should I get antibiotics for flu?

No. You do not need antibiotics for flu symptoms. Flu is a virus and antibiotics do not work against viruses. Taking antibiotics can cause side effects like diarrhoea but will not cure or speed up your recovery from flu. If you are suffering from flu symptoms simply visit your pharmacy or ask someone to go for you to describe your symptoms. There are many effective medicines available over the counter to help with your symptoms while you recover.


How can I stay warm and safe this winter?

Winter is a time when people are more at risk of injury or illness. By thinking ahead you can reduce risk and be prepared should the cold weather hit suddenly. Read our ’Stay Winter Wise’ booklet now to prepare for winter weather over the coming months. You may be surprised by what you read:


Where can I find more information?

Find your nearest health service in the Social care and wellbeing hub

Follow our Director of Public Health on Twitter: @PaulPaulbutcher

Last Updated: 29/03/2016