Flu facts and how to protect yourself
Don't let the flu get you!
This year, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself and your family as we enter the winter months.
Both Covid-19 and flu will be circulating at the same time. You definitely don’t want to come down with both.
By having the flu vaccine you will help to reduce the pressure on your NHS in Bolton and also help to protect your community.
Some of the symptoms of Covid-19 and flu are similar, so if you have a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or you notice a change or loss in your sense of taste or smell – you must book a coronavirus test.
What exactly is flu?
Influenza (flu) is a serious disease caused by a virus. It’s not just a bad cold! In some cases, flu can develop into something worse. On average, flu kills 11,000 people each year.
How it spreads:
- through coughs and sneezes
- by touching door handles and tables, then touching your face
- directly, through saliva or nose secretions (snot!)
That’s why it’s important to wash your hands properly and ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ using a tissue. If you don’t have a tissue handy, use the inside of your elbow!
How can I avoid getting flu?
Your best defence against flu is vaccination. It helps your immune system fight off the flu virus.
You may not be fully protected but it will dramatically reduce your chances of getting flu and spreading it to other people who may not be able to fight it off easily.
If you do get flu, vaccination will reduce the severity of your infection and reduce the chances of you having to go to hospital. It could save your life!
The flu vaccine is FREE for the following people:
- those aged 65 and over
- pregnant women
- those with certain long-term health condition (eg. diabetes, COPD, kidney, heart or lung disease)*
- 2 to 11 year olds
- frontline health and care workers
- those in long-stay residential care
- people who receive a carers allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
- people living with someone who's at high risk from coronavirus
*This is not an exhaustive list. Speak to your GP to check if you’re eligible.
School children from Reception to Year 6 and Year 7 pupils receive the nasal spray via their school health programme. 2 and 3 years olds can have the nasal spray at their GP practice.
Anyone not entitled to a free vaccine can still get protected via their local pharmacy for £10 to £13.
Measures have been taken to make it as safe as possible to have the flu vaccine during a pandemic.
Can the vaccine give me flu?
No! The part of the flu virus which causes infection is destroyed - so you can’t get flu from vaccination. You might have a sore arm from the needle. If you feel poorly afterwards, you may have picked up another virus – typically, there are lots at this time of year.
If it’s genuine flu, you’ll know about it! Don’t take the risk – get vaccinated.
The children’s nasal spray can’t cause flu either. After having the nasal spray, some children might get a runny or blocked nose but this is mild in comparison to them having flu.
I’ve got flu – what should I do?
- stay at home and rest until you feel better
- keep warm/drink plenty of water
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and to help with aches and pains
- you should start to feel better after a week
- antibiotics will not work against flu as it is a viral infection
Like Covid-19, flu is highly contagious so please stay at home to avoid infecting others who may become more poorly than you. If you’re worried about your or your child’s symptoms then contact your GP either online or by phone and they will advise what to do.
Easy read booklet
People with learning disabilities are more vulnerable to the flu virus and have a higher risk of developing complications as a result of the flu such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
People with learning disabilities are less likely to get the flu if they, and those who support them, get a flu vaccine.
If you have learning disabilities or support somebody who does, you can get the flu vaccine for free - call you GP surgery or local pharmacy to book an appointment.
An easy read booklet explaining the flu vaccination has been created for people with learning disabilities. It also includes advice for carers.