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Influenza (usually simply called flu) is a common viral infection which is spread by coughs and sneezes. You can catch flu at any time of year but it's more common in the winter months.
The main symptoms of flu are a sudden high temperature, headache, aches and pains, tiredness and a sore throat. You may also cough or sneeze. The symptoms can come on very quickly.
Although it's painful and tiring, flu is usually a fairly mild condition that goes away by itself in around a week. However in older people or those who have certain medical conditions, flu can lead to serious complications and may require medical treatment.
Your doctor will be able to tell you if you are eligible to receive a vaccination (flu jab) which may prevent you catching the flu. This may be necessary if you:
- are pregnant
- are 65 or older
- have a serious medical condition
- are a healthcare worker or carer
- live in a care home
and the eligibility now includes
- all children aged two to ten (but not eleven years or older) on 31 August 2019
If you an not eligible to receive the vaccination on the NHS, it would be available from your local pharmacy for around £10.
Other information and advice
Flusurvey is a website run by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. During the peak flu season in winter, users can register and then enter information about cold or flu symptoms, which is used to create a map of the flu outbreak. It also has useful information about flu prevention and vaccines.