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

The best way to prevent getting flu is to have the flu jab. It’s a safe and effective vaccine and is offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications.

The flu vaccine is given to adults who:

  • are 50 and over (including those who'll be 50 by 31 March 2022)
  • have certain health conditions
  • are pregnant
  • are in a long-stay residential care
  • receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • are frontline health or social care workers.

The children's nasal spray flu vaccine is safe and effective. It's being offered to:

  • children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2021 – born between 1 September 2017 and 31 August 2019
  • all primary school children (reception to year 6)
  • all year 7 to year 11 children in secondary school
  • children aged 2 to 17 years with long-term health conditions.

The NHS provides full details of flu vaccines.

You can often treat flu without seeing your GP and you should begin to feel better in about a week. GPs don’t recommend antibiotics for flu because they will not relieve symptoms or speed up your recovery.

If you do catch flu, a pharmacist can give treatment advice and recommend flu remedies. Call a pharmacy or contact them online before going in person. You can get medicines delivered or ask someone to collect them. 

Medical warning:

Be careful not to use flu remedies if you're taking paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets as it's easy to take more than the recommended dose. 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.

The NHS provides more information about flu including its symptoms and how to treat flu yourself or others with flu.

Ask yourself: could it be coronavirus (COVID-19)?

If you have a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, it could be COVID-19. Get NHS advice about symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do.