Flu how to protect yourself

This year, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself and your family as we enter the winter months.

What is flu?

Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include:

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

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

For more information on flu and how to treat it, go to the NHS UK website.

The flu vaccine

The symptoms of flu will often get better on their own, but the virus can make some people seriously ill. It’s important to get the flu vaccine if you’re advised to. It helps your immune system fight off the flu virus.

By having the flu vaccine you will help to reduce the pressure on your NHS in Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale and will help to protect your community.

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.

Find out if you are eligible for the flu vaccine.

Telling the difference between cold and flu

Cold and flu symptoms are similar, but flu tends to be more severe.

Could it be Coronavirus?

If you have a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense or taste, it could be Coronavirus? Get advice about Coronavirus symptoms and what to do?

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.

How to treat flu yourself

To help you get better more quickly:

  • stay at home, rest and sleep
  • keep warm
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains
  • drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (your pee should be light yellow or clear)
  • 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.

A pharmacist can help with flu

A pharmacist can give treatment advice and recommend flu remedies.
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.

Call your pharmacy or contact them online before going in person (probably best to add something about NOT going to the pharmacy of you have flu-like illness due to risks). You can get medicines delivered from some pharmacies or ask someone to collect them.  Find a pharmacy here.

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.

What is the flu vaccine for children

The Children’s flu vaccine is safe and effective. It’s offered every year as a nasal spray to children to help protect them against flu.

The vaccine is given as a spray squirted up each nostril. It’s quick and painless.

The vaccine will still work even if your child gets a runny nose, sneezes or blows their nose.

The brand of nasal spray flu vaccine available in the UK is called Fluenz Tetra.

The nasal spray vaccine contains pork gelatine.

Why is the Fluenz nasal spray being used?

The flu virus enters the body through the nose and mouth. From there it is transmitted to the throat and upper airways where it rapidly replicates and goes on to cause the symptoms of flu. Because Fluenz® also enters the body through the nose it mimics the flu virus and results in a better immune response than an injected vaccine.

Does the nasal spray vaccine contain pork gelatine?

The nasal flu vaccine does contain gelatine that comes from pork as one of its additives. Gelatine is commonly used in a range of medicines and some other vaccines used in the UK. The gelatine used in Fluenz® is a highly purified product used to stabilise this live viral vaccine. Many stabilisers have been tried previously, but the gelatine was chosen because it was the best product. Due to the time delays in producing vaccines with other stabilisers, alternative nasal flu vaccines may not be available for many years (or at all).  If Fluenz is not suitable, speak to your child’s nurse or doctor about your options.