Vaccination against influenza
Influenza (Flu) is a viral infection that affects the respiratory system, with an epidemic occurring every year. It is caused by an airborne virus which easily spreads from person to person. It can cause mild to very severe illness, and even death.
The UK flu season is from October to March. The viruses that cause flu change regularly, so new strains emerge often that people can have varying immunity to depending on how similar it is to other strains. Public Health England (PHE) runs the surveillance programme in the UK for seasonal flu and this information is used by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to recommend vaccine composition.
Vaccination is the most effective measure available to protect people from flu and the complications it can lead to. Yearly vaccination is required because it will protect against the most common viruses circulating that year. It is advisable to have a flu jab just before the flu season begins, although getting vaccinated at any time in the year can help. The flu vaccine will reduce your chances of getting flu as well as reducing the likelihood of spreading it to other people.
The WHO advises an annual influenza vaccination for high-risk groups; pregnant women, children under 5 years old, people aged 65 and over, people with chronic medical conditions, and people with increased exposure like healthcare workers.