HEALTH chiefs have urged people to get flu vaccinations.
Health professionals across West Yorkshire are reminding people to make sure they ward off flu this winter.
Parents are especially being encouraged to have children who fall into at-risk groups immunised.
There is a fear that after three unusually quiet years, the number of flu cases is now rising to what is considered normal seasonal levels, according to the Health Protection Agency's latest figures.
An Agency spokesman said although at this stage it was far too early to predict whether the numbers will be higher than average this year, they are asking people to be alert to symptoms of flu.
He said: "We are encouraging anyone over the age of 65, or under 65 who falls into an `at risk' group, to ensure they receive their flu vaccination."
Dr Howard Barnes, consultant in public health medicine (health protection) for Calderdale and Kirklees said: "For the last three years, we have seen very low levels of flu in the UK, but flu activity has started earlier than normal this year so we are expecting to see more cases.
"However as flu strains change over time, they are more likely to affect the young who will have less immunity to them.
"For this reason it is especially important for children over six months of age, who fall into the at-risk groups, to be vaccinated.
"Flu is a highly-infectious illness, which spreads very quickly by people carrying the virus coughing and sneezing. If you are feeling very unwell with a fever and muscle aches, it is better not to go to work or school to help prevent it spreading to others.
"It's a good idea to be prepared in advance and maintain a well- stocked medicine cabinet to treat yourself at home.
"Have paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin to help relieve the aches, pains and raised temperatures of colds and flu and paracetamol or ibuprofen syrups (preferably sugar free) for children. "