Uh-oh, it’s nearly flu season. That means it’s time to start getting prepped, and since this year’s flu vaccine is now available, we’re giving you the low-down on this winter virus so you know what to do if you’re unlucky enough to come down with it, and some tips on how to stop the spread and protect yourself.  

Vaccine o’clock  

It’s flu jab time! Speak to your GP or pharmacist about getting this year’s flu vaccine (this year the vaccine for under 65’s covers four different strains of the virus meaning you’re better covered than ever before. A slightly different one is available for over 65’s – check out the NHS website for details). For people over 65, young children, pregnant women and people with long-term medical conditions the vaccine is free. If you don’t fall into any of those groups, it’s still worth considering paying the small fee and getting yourself protected. Not only will you be protecting yourself from getting a rubbish virus, but you might well avoid passing it on to someone who’s more vulnerable and more likely to get nasty and potentially very serious complications. That’s some good karma right there. 

Not sure if you’re eligible for a free flu jab? Speak to your pharmacist or GP and they’ll be able to hook you up with some more details. 

Cold or flu? 

If you’re anything like me, you’ve had some pretty nasty colds in the past, the type that makes you feel like your face could explode at any moment. When you’re feeling like that, it could be pretty easy to assume you’ve got the flu, and in fairness they do have a lot in common symptom-wise. The main differences are that flu tends to come on in a few hours, while you can often feel a cold creeping on gradually. Colds mostly affect your nose and throat, but flu will give you aches all over. Plus, while you might not want to, with a cold you can generally get on with your life. With flu you’re going to be feeling so exhausted and floppy that you might not be able to get out of bed, let alone do anything else. 

Make it better, oh please make it better! 

Don’t worry – getting plenty of rest, keeping yourself warm, drinking lots of water and taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to manage your symptoms are the best way to see yourself on the road to recovery. And you can always ask your pharmacy for advice on flu remedies, too.  

Flu is proper contagious, so if you do end up with it, save those around you and stay home, and avoid passing it on to your family and/or housemates by washing your hands regularly, and using and disposing of tissues quickly if you’re blowing your nose or sneezing. Remember – catch it, bin it, kill it isn’t just a catchy phrase, it’s actually a good way to protect the people around you. 

Remember, if you are unlucky enough to get flu and you’re pregnant, over 65, have a long-term medical condition, or if your symptoms haven’t improved after seven days, give your GP a call, or ring NHS 111 for advice.