Flu, or influenza, is a common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes. It can be very unpleasant, but you'll usually begin to feel better within about a week.

You can catch flu all year round, but it's especially common in winter, which is why it's also known as seasonal flu.

Flu isn't the same as the common cold. Flu is caused by a different group of viruses and the symptoms tend to start more suddenly, be more severe and last longer.

Information for the public has been produced and includes some leaflets. This information can be found on the NHS inform website.

A range of materials for healthcare professionals have also been produced and can be found on the NHS Education Scotland (NES) website.


Listed below are key documents and resources that have been made available to assist with Seasonal Influenza vaccination programme.

Antiviral guidance

Guidance is available from Public Health England (PHE) on the use of antiviral agents for the treatment and prophylaxis of seasonal influenza.

The guidance has been approved for use in Scotland by the Scottish Health Protection Network Guidance Group (SHPN-GG) and should be used in conjunction with the SHPN addendum.

Read the addendum and access the guidelines on our website

Point of Care Tests (POCT)

The Scottish Microbiology and Virology Network (SMVN) and the Scottish Health Protection Network (SHPN) have produced a joint advisory statement that describes key recommendations that will ensure a better access to diagnostic data for future seasons.

For all infection prevention and control guidance visit the A-Z ​pathogens section of the National Infection and Prevention Control Manual.


In season 2018 to 2019, four different types of flu vaccine will be offered to the adult and the at‐risk groups as part of the influenza vaccination programme. The recommended vaccine for individuals will depend on the evidence provided by Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) relating to the effectiveness of vaccines for different age groups and available vaccine supplies. This will benefit patients by ensuring that they have the most suitable vaccine that gives them the best protection against flu. The flu vaccine is the best available protection against the flu virus.

Settings the vaccines are offered in

In general practice

  • Adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine (aTIV) will be offered to all adults aged 75 years or more.
  • Trivalent inactivated vaccine (TIV) will continue be offered to all adults aged 65 to 74 years.
  • Quadrivalent inactivated vaccine (QIV) will be offered to children aged from 6 months to 2 years, and in adults from 18 years to less than 65 years of age who are at increased risk from flu because of a long term health condition.
  • Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) will be offered to adolescents under 18 years who are at increased risk from flu because of a long term health condition.

In general practice and via school based programmes

Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) will continue to be offered to all:

  • pre-school children age 2 years or more through their GP surgery
  • primary school aged children age 4 to 11 years through schools, however if LAIV is clinically contraindicated QIV is used in this age group

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) letters

The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) letters in respect of the 2018 to 2019 Flu Vaccination Programme have now been published by Scottish Government and can be viewed below:

Patient group directions

View the seasonal influenza related documents below:

Seasonal influenza vaccine uptake data visualisation

Use the dashboard to explore the seasonal influenza vaccine uptake data in Scotland.

Data and surveillance

Laboratory based surveillance of seasonal respiratory pathogens is undertaken throughout the year to monitor trends and to detect when activity is higher than levels expected for the time of year based on activity in previous seasons.

Throughout the winter season, we'll produce regular reports summarising influenza and other seasonal pathogen activity to inform local and national planning activities. 

View the latest surveillance reports:

View all surveillance reports

Caveats and supporting notes

The data and the methodologies used in the national seasonal respiratory report can be viewed in the caveats and supporting notes.

Technical document for the 2018 to 2019 flu season

View the reporting rates of influenza-like illness (ILI) consultations from General Practitioners in Scotland technical document.

Erratum to 2017 to 2018 season ILI data

Due to the 2017 to 2018 data issues described in our 2018 to 2019 ILI technical document, the ILI data included on the weekly reports has been revised.

View the retrospective 2017 to 2018 data.


Influenza publications can be viewed below: