The time of year you're MOST likely to get the flu – and how to protect yourself

IT'S coming into winter and that means warm coats, oversized scarfs…and flu.

Coming down with a cold or flu is almost unavoidable in the colder months, but there's a certain time you're more like to become ill.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that's all winter long, after all that's when the bugs are around.

But, in fact, the flu virus peaks at different times in winter, which means there are different times that you're more at risk.

Based on previous data on hospital flu admissions, the bug starts to rear it's ugly head around the middle of November.

Though it's the period between mid-January to the end of March that we tend to see the most flu admissions.

"Basically, an outbreak can occur at any time from mid-November onwards," Professor Robert Dingwall, a flu expert at Nottingham Trent University told The Sun Online.

"However, in recent experience, the period from mid-January to early March tends to be when there is the highest risk," Prof Dingwall added.

"It's partly that flu circulates more easily in the winter.

"Our general immune levels are a bit lower because of the lack of sunlight, and we are spending more time indoors which makes it easier for bugs to get passed around."

That's why doctors encourage you to get your flu jab by the end of October before the flu season kicks off.

"It takes a couple of weeks for the vaccine to reach it's maximum effectiveness.

"So if you want to get the maximum benefit from it then having it earlier rather than later is better.

"That means if it shows up before Christmas, which is occasionally does, then the protection is in place.

"But if you can't get a vaccination by the end of October, it is still worth having whenever you can get it done."

Last year's devastating flu season, which saw Aussie flu sweep the UK, caused 352 deaths and left thousands more in hospital, according to the latest figures from Public Health England.

At it's peak some eight million people were thought to be suffering the flu during winter, according to online tool FluSurvey.

While this year's flu season isn't shaping up to be as bad, there's always a risk the virus can mutate and wreak havoc.

People over the age of 65, young children, pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions like asthma and heart disease are the most at-risk in the community.

They're most likely to catch flu and also most likely to suffer complications, and even death, from the illness.

How can you protect yourself?

Health officials are urging everyone eligible to be vaccinated against the flu before the peak season hits.

The best way to protect yourself from falling ill with the flu is to regularly wash your hands to kill germs, practise safe hygiene by using a tissue when you sneeze and cough and making sure you have had your flu jab.

The NHS offers a free flu jab in the lead up to and during flu season – but only to certain age and health groups.



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For children the vaccine is offered in the form of a nasal spray.

Children aged two to four years will be given the spray at their GP surgery.

Young kids in school years one to three are likely to receive their vaccine at school.

Pregnant women and anyone aged 65-years and older are eligible for a free jab.

But also, people with long-term heart or respiratory diseases or weakened immune systems will get a free jab.

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