Flu vaccination

The flu vaccination

Flu occurs every year and most people usually recover within a week, but for some, the disease can be dangerous and increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses. In the worst cases, flu can result in a stay in the hospital or even death.

But this is anything but a normal year. There has never been a more important time to make sure you, and those you care for, are protected against serious illnesses such as the flu.

Are you at increased risk?

Flu can affect anyone, but some people are more susceptible to the effects of flu. Keep your guard up against flu with the flu vaccine. The flu jab is free for everyone who is at increased risk including:

  • pregnant women
  • everyone who has a long-term health condition like a heart problem, bronchitis, emphysema, severe asthma, kidney disease, liver disease, or diabetes
  • carers
  • frontline health and social care staff
  • everyone aged 65 and over
  • people in long-stay residential care homes
  • anyone who has been shielding and members of their household

What about children?

This year, the following groups of children are being offered the flu vaccination:

  • All 2 to 3-year-old children - for children aged 2 and 3, the flu vaccine is not an injection, but a quick and painless nasal spray. This is given by your Practice Nurse at your GP surgery.
  • All children in school years up to and including year 7 - parents will be asked to permit their child to get the free nasal spray vaccination at school.
  • Children over six months of age who have a health condition such as a heart problem, bronchitis, emphysema, severe asthma, neurological condition, or lowered immunity will be offered the flu vaccine. If they are under 2 years old this will be given by injection.
  • If you are pregnant, having the flu vaccine will protect you and your baby.

The nasal vaccine

The nasal vaccine contains a highly processed form of porcine gelatine. The gelatine helps to keep the vaccine viruses stable. Find out more about vaccines with porcine gelatine on the Gov.UK website.

When and where to get the flu jab?

It is best to have the flu vaccination in the autumn. You will need a flu jab every year, as the flu virus can change from year to year.

The flu jab is free for everyone at increased risk. To get the vaccination, speak to your GP, practice nurse, or pharmacist, or visit the flu jab page on the NHS Choices website for more advice and information.

Will the flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19?

The flu vaccine won’t protect you against COVID-19. But it will help protect you against flu, which is an unpleasant and potentially serious infection that can cause complications leading to hospital admission. Helping to protect against flu is particularly important with COVID-19 in circulation because people vulnerable to COVID-19 are also at risk of complications from flu.

Is it safe to attend healthcare appointments?

NHS premises are safe, it is really important you attend to get your flu vaccination this winter.

You are at greater risk of having a serious illness if you don’t have the flu jab.

Continue to follow all government advice on face coverings, hand washing, and social distancing when you attend a health service. Please do not attend a GP practice or pharmacy if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or you have been asked to isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

Last updated: 8 October 2020