HAMPSHIRE residents are being urged to “act fast” to avoid festive flu .

England’s top doctors are urging people to protect themselves and their families from flu over the coming week.

It comes amid warnings that new cases may peak over the Christmas period.

As flu levels ramp up, Public Health England (PHE) has launched the Catch It, Bin It, Kill It campaign, to prevent the spread of the highly infectious disease.

Residents are advised to “get their jab” – or nasal spray for children – which offers the “best possible” chance of avoiding missing out on festivities.

According to the NHS hundreds of thousands aross the UK could see their holiday plans turn to misery if flu levels rise as expected in late December and early January.

The latest data from PHE shows that GP consultations for flu-like illness have risen by 24 per cent in the last few weeks.

It reports that flu can take its toll on anyone but those aged over 65, young children, pregnant women or those who have underlying medical conditions are particularly vulnerable to complications requiring hospital care.

NHS teams in GP surgeries, A&E departments and hospital wards are reportedly seeing the number of people coming forward for treatment increase, with some schools and care homes also reporting suspected outbreaks.

But concerns remain for those who have yet to protect themselves or their children, who can spread the virus from schools and nurseries to family members even if they don’t suffer any symptoms themselves.

NHS national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said: “Whether it’s missing out on your Christmas dinner, the Boxing Day match or a New Year’s party, nobody wants to be laid low by flu while the festivities are in full swing.

“Our message is simple: the flu season is here, get your jab now. It might be the difference between a Christmas to remember, and one to forget.”