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Flu is very infectious and easily spread by germs from coughs and sneezes. These germs can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours. To reduce the risk of spreading flu:

  • wash your hands often with warm water and soap
  • use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
  • bin used tissues as quickly as possible

Most people recover from flu within a week or two but it can be much more serious for vulnerable groups.  These people are advised to have a flu vaccine each year, and include older people, pregnant women and people with an underlying health condition.

The best way to prevent getting flu is to have the flu jab (or flu nasal spray for children). This vaccine is free of charge for people who are at risk. You should have the flu vaccine if you:

  • are 65 years of age or over 
  • are pregnant 
  • have certain medical conditions 
  • live in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility 
  • receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill 

The flu vaccine is also free on the NHS for:

  • children over the age of 6 months with a long-term health condition
  • children aged 2 and 3 on August 31 2018
  • children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

If you do catch flu, a pharmacist can give treatment advice and recommend flu remedies. You can often treat flu without seeing your GP and should begin to feel better in about a week.

Medical warning: If you catch flu and belong to a vulnerable group, or are worried, seek professional medical advice from a pharmacist, call NHS 111 or see your GP.

For more information about flu including its symptoms and how to treat flu yourself, see www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu/