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Influenza (commonly known as flu) is highly infectious and causes acute viral infection of the respiratory tract. This virus is spread through droplets, aerosol or direct contact with respiratory secretions from an infected individual. The usual incubation period is one to three days.
For healthy individuals, influenza is unpleasant but usually self-limiting with recovery between two to seven days. Some people are at increased risk of it causing severe illness or even death. Complications of influenza can include:
Those at greatest risk of serious illness from influenza include:
Most influenza vaccines available in the UK are inactivated with the exception of the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) – this is the vaccine given to most eligible children. The brand name for LAIV available in the UK is Fluenz®Tetra. LAIV contains live viruses that have been attenuated (weakened) and cold adapted so that they can only replicate in the lower temperatures of the nasal passages.
Because of the changing nature of influenza viruses, and changes in the strains circulating and causing disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) monitors the epidemiology of the influenza viruses throughout the world and makes annual recommendations about which strains should be included for the upcoming winter.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced recommendations for the viral composition of influenza vaccines for the 2022-23 influenza season in the northern hemisphere.
There are a number of inactivated influenza vaccines available. You can find out more about each vaccine in the summary of product characteristics (SmPC) which can be found at the link below by entering the vaccine name:
Vaccination programme recommendations from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and Welsh Government policy can be found at the links below.
Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation - GOV.UK (read JCVI publications and statements; search e.g. influenza)
The FluTwo eLearning module has been updated for 2023/24 and can be accessed via ESR or the Learning @Wales platform. Further information and user guides are available here: E-learning.
The Flu/COVID-19 One eLearning module has been updated for 2023/24 and can be accessed via ESR or the Learning @Wales platform. Further information and user guides are available here: E-learning. This short animation, has been produced to promote the Flu/COVID-19 One eLearning module.
Further immunisation training information and resources are provided on the Training Resources and Events page.
Keep in mind that vaccine eligibility information in Wales and England differs.
PGD templates for the influenza vaccine can be found on the Patient group directions (PGDs) and protocols page.
Flu surveillance information, including vaccine uptake, can be seen at Public Health Wales: Weekly influenza and acute respiratory infection report.
A ‘speedometer’ can be used to demonstrate flu vaccine uptake data. For health and social care professionals who would like to create their own speedometer for vaccine uptake, here is a template containing instructions.