New research reveals over half of UK adults are willing to put themselves and others at risk of flu this winter

  • Leading Virologist and community pharmacy urge more people to act as the front line of defence against flu this winter to help protect those around them
  • Just one person with flu can cause nearly 16,500 to become infected within two weeks

Over a third (37%) of UK adults believe there is no need for people in non-vulnerable groups* to have the flu vaccine and a worrying 58% have no plans to get the jab this winter.

This is despite nearly half (48%) saying they would get vaccinated if they thought it would help to protect people around them – suggesting low awareness of the role individuals can play in preventing the spread of the virus.

The research from LloydsPharmacy found that 36% of those who do not receive the vaccine on the NHS, felt that they were healthy so did not need to get vaccinated. Furthermore nearly one in ten (9%) stated they didn’t need it as they had never had flu before.

Research shows that on average people with seasonal flu can infect up to 2 other people[1], a ripple effect which means that one person with flu can cause nearly 16,500 people to become infected within two weeks – enough to fill 189 double decker buses.[2]

These figures show just how widespread the flu virus can travel, a figure that could be combatted by having the vaccine which acts as a barrier, helping to prevent the flu from travelling further.

To raise awareness of the importance of healthy adults getting vaccinated, a principle endorsed by leading Virologist Professor Easton, LloydsPharmacy is urging people to form the front line of defence against flu this winter.

LloydsPharmacy also found that there is a lack of awareness about how contagious the condition is, with 52% of people guessing that you are only contagious for up to 24 hours before starting to show symptoms, whereas in reality the figure is around 40 hours.

Flu expert Professor Easton, from the School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick, commented: “The findings of this new research are remarkable as they show a significant misunderstanding among the general public towards flu and how quickly it spreads. Many people don’t realise if you catch flu the people you are most likely to infect are those closest to you – including people who are more vulnerable and may be in your care such as elderly people or children.”

Flu spreads quickly as each time a person sneezes they can spread hundreds of thousands of viruses[3] – only 30 to 50 viruses need to reach the respiratory tract for a 50/50 chance of catching flu.[4]

Professor Easton continues: “There needs to be far more understanding about the flu vaccine and its benefits – for example it’s important to get the vaccine annually as flu mutates so each year’s vaccine is different. If you get vaccinated you’re not only protecting yourself but those around you – helping to increase immunity in society as a whole.”

Nitin Makadia, LloydsPharmacy Pharmacist, comments: “It’s not just vulnerable people who should get a flu vaccination. We are calling on people who won’t necessarily be given a flu vaccination by their doctor but who can inadvertently spread flu to people in their homes and communities, their workplaces and on public transport.

“These people have the power to become the front line of defence in the fight against this nasty virus and form a shield around their communities by getting vaccinated before the season hits.”

LloydsPharmacy is launching its flu vaccination service on 1st October – the beginning of flu season. More information about LloydsPharmacy’s flu service can be found online here:


Notes to editors:

  • The LloydsPharmacy flu service launches on 1st October in 750 stores nationwide. LloydsPharmacy is offering the vaccinations for £12.
  • LloydsPharmacy is offering a free flu vaccination, funded by the NHS, to people in the following high risk categories – this is available in selected LloydsPharmacy stores

* High risk categories are (note this varies dependent on local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) guidelines):

  • You’re over 65
  • You have asthma or lung disease
  • You have chronic heart disease
  • You’re diabetic
  • You have a chronic kidney      condition
  • You have a chronic liver      condition
  • You’ve had a stroke
  • You have an illness or are      taking medicines that lower your natural defences
  • LloydsPharmacy is offering businesses across the UK the opportunity to provide flu vaccinations to their employees. Employers are able to pre-order the preferred number of vaccines, which are redeemed by employees with either a pre-paid voucher at any of the vaccinating LloydsPharmacy branches across the UK or at a flu clinic run within the employer’s premises, between 1st October and 31st December.
  • The consumer survey was carried out by Censuswide between 8th and 12th September 2014 and surveyed a sample of 2000+ non-vulnerable adults, 16 – 65, who were not eligible to receive the vaccine for free
  • LloydsPharmacy has over 1500 pharmacies across the UK. These are based predominantly in community and health centre locations. The company employs over 17,000 staff and dispenses over 150 million prescription items annually.

[1] Biggerstaff et al. BMC Infectious Diseases 2014, 14:480,

[2] This is based on the capacity of a new Routemaster buses:

[3] Gerone PJ, Couch RB, Keefer GV, Douglas RG, Derrenbacher EB, Knight V.

[4] Nikitin, N., Petrova, E., Trifonova, E. and Karpova, O.  (2014). Influenza virus aerosols in the air and their infectiousness. Advances in Virology, doi:  10.1155/2014/859090

UK, 3 October 2014