This page is a printable version of: https://www.iow.nhs.uk/our-services/flu.htm
Date: 11 December 2023
The majority of coughs, colds and flu are caused by viruses, which will not respond to antibiotics. Flu is a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very quickly. A bad bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold. The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness.
Influenza is an example where prevention is better than cure — the flu vaccine is the best protection there is against this unpleasant illness.
Over time, protection from the injected flu vaccine gradually decreases and flu strains often change. So new vaccines are produced each year, which is why people who are advised to have the flu jab, need to have it every year.
Speak to your GP, Pharmacist, Midwife or child’s school to arrange for your vaccination
For more information about flu and staying well this winter please visit nhs.uk/staywell/
A bad bout of flu is much worse than a heavy cold. Flu symptoms come on suddenly and sometimes severely. They include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles, as well as cough and a sore throat. You’re likely to spend two or three days in bed. If you get complications caused by flu, you could become seriously ill and have to go to hospital.
The injected flu vaccine given to adults contains inactivated flu viruses so it can’t give you flu. Your arm may feel a bit sore where you were injected and some may experience a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards but other reactions are very rare.
The children’s flu nasal spray vaccine contains live but weakened flu viruses that will not give your child flu.
Viruses cause flu and antibiotics only work against bacteria. You may be prescribed antiviral medicines to treat your flu — these do not cure flu but they can make you less infectious to other people and reduce the length of time you may be ill. To be effective, antivirals have to be given within a day or two of your symptoms appearing. A bacterial infection may occur as a result of having the flu, in which case you may be prescribed antibiotics.
The viruses that cause flu change every year so you need a vaccination each new flu season to match the new viruses.
This year’s flu vaccine protects against three different flu viruses, including the swine flu virus. This is because the virus is expected to be circulating this year.