What you need to know about the flu

This article will help you spot facts from fiction about the virus, what symptoms to look out for and how to prevent spreading it around.
A stack of used tissues on a bedside table, next to a hot cuppa and some folded up glasses.

So, what is flu?

As you probably know, flu is a virus that spreads easily from person to person through coughs, sneezes or contaminated surfaces. It can lead to symptoms such as a fever, chills, headaches, joint pain and severe lack of energy. 

Did you know, the flu is most common from September to March every year.

So why should we talk about and be concerned about flu?

A lot of people believe that flu is just a bad cold but it can be very serious, especially for people with long term conditions.

Some Facts and Figures

A total of 1,064 hospital admissions of confirmed influenza (flu) were reported across the UK in 2017, including 133 deaths where flu was the cause.

It can have a real impact on health particularly among vulnerable groups such as people with long term conditions.

Symptoms of Flu

Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include:

  • a sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above
  • an aching body
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • a dry cough
  • a sore throat
  • a headache
  • difficulty sleeping
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea or tummy pain
  • feeling sick and being sick

The symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in their ears and appear less active.

Who should get vaccinated?

  • People over 65 years of age

  • People who have long term health conditions, such as:

    • chronic heart disease
    • respiratory disease such as asthma, bronchitis
    • chronic kidney disease – stage 3, 4 o 5
    • chronic neurological disease – such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease.
    • a learning disability
    • diabetes
    • splenic dysfunction
    • a weakened immune system
    • morbidly obese (BMI of over 40 or above)
  • All pregnant women
  • All children aged two to ten years old on August 2019
  • Carers (people who are the main carer of someone whose welfare maybe at risk should they fall ill)
  • People who are staying in long stay care homes or other residential care facilities
  • Close contacts of people who have an impaired immune system
  • Frontline social care and hospice workers (through employer’s occupational health or from pharmacy/GP)

Where can I get a flu jab and how much is it?

The flu jab is available across a variety of places in Medway including GP surgeries and pharmacies. Contact your GP or your local pharmacy for details on how to book your appointment.

You can get your flu jab from your GP or from selected local pharmacies who have signed up to deliver the jab.

  • Children of school age will receive it via their GP. Parents of any child at risk from flu because of an underlying medical condition can choose to receive flu vaccination in general practice, especially if the parent does not want their child to have to wait for the school vaccination session.
  • Children can have a nasal spray so don’t have to have a vaccination.
  • Anyone over 65 years of age or anyone with an existing condition can have the jab for FREE.

So, get the flu jab on your to-do list this weekend!

How to prevent getting the virus

Remember 'Catch it, bin it, kill it'? If any friends or family have it, remind them of the saying to potentially save you and others coming down with it too. To help reduce spreading the flu it's good to regularly wash your hands, catch your sneezes in tissues and dispose of it etc.

Eat well and stay active! Exercising and having regular hot meals can help with staying warm over the winter.

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