Seasonal influenza

Influenza (commonly referred to as 'flu') is a respiratory illness associated with infection by influenza virus. The symptoms of infection commonly include: a headache, fever, cough, sore throat and myalgia (aching muscles and joints) and can result in severe illness for certain people who are ‘at risk’, including older people and those with certain medical conditions.

Those defined as ‘at risk’ include:

  • pregnant women in all stages/ any trimester of pregnancy
  • anyone aged over 65 years, even if they feel fit and healthy at the moment
  • children and adults who have any of the following medical conditions:
    • a chronic chest condition such as asthma
    • a chronic heart condition
    • chronic liver disease
    • chronic kidney disease
    • diabetes
    • lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroids or cancer therapy (people living in the same house as someone with lowered immunity may also need to be vaccinated)
    • a chronic neurological condition such as stroke, multiple sclerosis or a condition that affects your nervous system, such as cerebral palsy, or hereditary and degenerative diseases of the central nervous system or muscles
    • any other serious medical condition - check with your doctor if you are unsure
  • children who have previously been admitted to hospital with a chest infection
  • children attending schools for children with severe learning difficulties
  • anyone living in a residential or nursing home
  • main carers for older or disabled people

People defined as being ‘at risk’ are eligible and encouraged to receive the flu vaccination free of charge on the NHS through their local GP practice. Furthermore, this year the flu vaccination is being offered to all children aged 2-4 years old and primary school children.

Influenza surveillance

Influenza surveillance data is collected all year round by the Public Health Agency in collaboration with the Northern Ireland Regional Virus Laboratory, local GP practices, and a number of other relevant local agencies who kindly provide data to the influenza surveillance department.

The earliest occurrence of seasonal influenza varies from year to year; but most often occurs during the winter months - usually beginning in October or November, and peaking between December and March. During the ‘flu season the PHA publishes a regular ‘flu bulletin outlining the season so far, including GP consultation rates and information on the circulating virus.

2018/2019 flu bulletins

To see the 2018/2019 flu bulletins click here.

Annual Surveillance Reports

Northern Ireland Influenza Surveillance Report 2017-18.pdf

Surveillance of Influenza in Northern Ireland 2016-17

Surveillance of Influenza in Northern Ireland 2015-2016.pdf

Surveillance of Influenza in Northern Ireland 2014-2015

Surveillance of Influenza in Northern Ireland 2013-2014 

 Surveillance of influenza in Northern Ireland 2012-2013

Surveillance of influenza in Northern Ireland 2011-2012

Surveillance of influenza in Northern Ireland 2010-2011