A winter’s tale – how you can protect yourself this flu season

This advertorial is part of the YouNotFlu disease awareness initiative funded by Sanofi Pasteur.

With colder weather approaching, it’s time to act to ensure you’re protected against influenza – otherwise known as ‘flu’.

Flu is spread through droplets of saliva and mucous, which are dispersed through the air when a person coughs or sneezes.1,2 These droplets can hang in the air, where other people may breathe them in, or land on surfaces where they can remain for up to 24 hours.3 Flu is not just a ‘bad cold’; you can start to feel symptoms of flu quickly and could spend a week or more with a fever, chills, headache, extreme tiredness and aches and pains.3 This may mean taking an extended period of time off work and time spent away from friends and family. In more severe cases, the virus can even result in hospitalisation.4

The condition can affect anyone but can be a serious illness for those with certain underlying chronic health conditions or people over the age of 65.5 A recent survey of UK adults aged 18+ commissioned by Sanofi Pasteur found that only 57% think flu is a serious disease that could result in hospitalisation, and only 54% are concerned about it6 – highlighting a lack of knowledge regarding its potential dangers amongst respondents.

While around 65% of survey respondents recognise that taking measures to protect against flu is important this year, one in ten are unaware of the measures they should take to avoid it, and almost one in five (19%) think it’s unlikely they will get it.6

Defence against flu isn’t just important for your own health – it can also help protect other people and reduce pressure on the NHS.

Taking protective measures against flu can help to prevent your loved ones from catching and spreading the virus, which is particularly important for those most at risk.7 When surveyed, approximately 65% of people stated that ‘protecting the health of others’ was a motivating factor when taking measures to protect against flu.6

Alongside flu, there are several other different infectious illnesses which tend to become more prevalent in the winter, including Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), norovirus (vomiting bug) and more recently COVID-19, resulting in greater pressure on the National Health Service (NHS). Protection against flu can help to reduce these winter pressures.8,9 Encouragingly, over half of respondents in the survey (53%) said they would consider taking protective measures to help prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.6

There are a number of important steps you can take to protect yourself and those around you who may be vulnerable to flu and its effects. These include regularly washing your hands and cleaning surfaces, avoiding close contact with people who have flu-like symptoms, and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze.3,10, You can also visit a GP or pharmacist to see if you are eligible for a free flu vaccination under the National Immunisation Programme.

“Influenza is a potentially deadly virus and can cause significant harm to those in vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, those with chronic health conditions, or impaired immune systems,” said Professor John Watkins, Consultant Epidemiologist, Public Health Wales. “Flu vaccine, which is part of the UK’s National Immunisation Programme, is recommended for these vulnerable groups and can be highly effective in reducing the risk of being admitted to hospital, or worse succumbing to the virus.”

For more information, visit

  1. NHS. Flu. Available at:
  2. Gov.UK. Flu vaccination: who should have it this winter and why. Available at:
  3. NHS Inform Scotland. About Flu. Available at: 
  4. WHO. Influenza factsheet.  Available at:
  5. CDC. People 65 Years and Older & Influenza. Available at:
  6. Sanofi Pasteur. Survey of 2203 adults aged 18-64 in September 2021. Conducted by Toluna. Data on file
  7. NHS. Flu vaccine. Available at:
  8. COVID-19: Preparing for the future.  Looking ahead to winter 2021/22 and beyond.  15 July 2021.  The Academy of Medical Sciences.  Available at:
  9. The Health Foundation.  Winter Pressures.  Available at:
  10. Public Health England. Public health matters – Flu vaccination: What you need to know about this year’s vaccine. Available at:


Job code: MAT-GB-2104796 (v1.0)
Date of preparation: November 2021

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