Beat the flu

Beat the Flu

It’s more important than ever for you to #BeatTheFlu this winter

The influenza virus causes the highly infectious disease influenza (flu) which cause a range of symptoms which are often mild but can be very serious and life threatening. The spread of the virus within health care settings to vulnerable groups and staff is a huge concern. 

With coronavirus co-circulating alongside influenza it is essential to protect those at most risk of flu, who are also those most vulnerable to hospitalisation as a result of COVID-19 disease.

Due to repeated exposure of the virus, one in four health care staff is estimated to be infected in any flu season. While many will have very mild or even no symptoms, we know that health care staff transmit the virus and, as a result, put their patients as well as friends and family at risk of developing serious complications from the flu.  

People die from flu every year. Even those who were previously healthy can develop severe complications, including bronchitis, secondary bacterial pneumonia, meningitis and encephalitis; the risk is even higher in those who have other illnesses, the elderly and pregnant women.

The flu vaccine is effective in preventing the serious complications of influenza and in helping to stop it spread. This could be the difference between life and death. The vaccine cannot give you flu, although it can make your arm feel a bit sore and sometimes cause a slight temperature. Other reactions are very rare.

The antibodies that protect you from flu decline over time, and flu strains also change from year to year, so you need an updated vaccination against the virus every year.

The flu vaccine programme for the 2020/21 flu season has been extended, with more groups eligible to receive flu vaccine than ever before. For full details see the RCN advice sheet and the country specific detail for the annual flu programme; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales.

All health and care staff should get the vaccine. It should be freely available to nursing students, not only to protect them and their patients, but to instil best practice on the health care professionals of the future.

Download our winter wellbeing poster

Put our winter wellbeing poster up in your workplace to help you and your colleagues stay healthy this winter.

Flu advice and resources

Large-scale vaccination service planning

Read our immunisation services and vaccination delivery during COVID-19 guidance.
Person holding a mobile phone

Advice and resources

Check out our advice guide which links to the most up to date guidance and advice to support the delivery of quality services. 
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RCN position statement on flu vaccines

Read our guidance for members on protecting your patients from flu.

How to fight flu together

We're calling for all members to have the flu vaccination. Read more about why it's important we #BeatTheFlu this year from Helen Donovan, RCN Professional Lead for Public Health.

Photo of nurse in PPE receiving a flu vaccination

Page last updated - 06/04/2021