Healthy living

Swine flu prevention

a vaccine will be available Practical steps you can take

Swine flu, like other forms of flu, is passed between people by close contact. It can be transmitted through the air by coughing or sneezing, or by touching your face after contact with surfaces on which the virus is present. The virus is able survive for a few hours on hard surfaces.

Stop the spread

To help prevent the spread of swine flu (and other airborne infections), you should:

  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and use a tissue where possible
  • Throw the tissue in the bin after you use it. Don’t leave it lying around
  • Maintain good basic hygiene. Wash hands frequently with soap and water to stop the virus spreading from hands to face, or to other people
  • Clean hard surfaces (e.g. door handles) regularly using normal cleaning products
  • Ensure your children follow this advice

If you become infected (or suspect you are)

Stay at home if possible. Ask friends or family to shop for you, and to check on you regularly. If you think you are infected, do not visit your doctor, instead call your local GP or NHS Direct. They may recommended you receive anti-viral drugs. If so, ask someone else to collect them from your GP.

Avoid infection

If you are in a known risk group, you should avoid crowds and unnecessary travel to limit your risk of exposure.


At the time of writing there is no vaccination for swine flu, however one is in development. In the UK the government is predicting delivery of the first batch of the vaccine by late August of this year. These will almost certainly be administered to high risk groups first.

TheFamilyGP guide to swine flu

Action plan

For tips on how to be prepared for swine flu, and important contact numbers and sources of information.

Swine flu background

Risk groups

Progress of the disease

This article was published on Fri 17 July 2009

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