The flu vaccination
Boost your immunity this winter with the free NHS flu vaccination which will begin to be available from September 2022.
Flu occurs every year and most people usually recover within a week or so, 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.
Having a flu vaccine is the most effective way to boost our natural immunity and protect ourselves, the communities we serve, and our loved ones from the harmful effects of flu this winter.
Why do I need a vaccine?
Flu and Covid-19 can both be life-threatening and spread more easily in winter, when we are all crowded together inside.
As we learn to live with Covid-19, it’s so important to make sure you are protected against potentially serious winter illnesses such as the flu.
Even if you were vaccinated against flu last year, you will need another this winter as the virus can change from year-to-year. Boost your immunity this winter by getting the free vaccine.
Free flu vaccine
Flu can affect anyone, but some people are more susceptible to the effects of flu. The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to people who:
• are 50 and over (including those who'll be 50 by 31 March 2023)
• have certain health conditions
• are pregnant
• are in long-stay residential care
• receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
• live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
• frontline health or social care workers
What about children?
The flu vaccination is given as a nasal spray to children which this year is being offered to:
• children aged six months to two years old with a long-term condition who will receive vaccination at their GP Surgery
• children aged two or three on Wednesday 31 August 2022 who will receive their vaccination at their GP Surgery
• children at primary school who will receive their vaccination at school
• children in years seven to nine at secondary school who will receive their vaccination at school
• children with a long-term condition in reception to year nine who will receive their vaccination at school or GP Surgery
• home-schooled children who will receive their vaccination at a community clinic
If the nasal spray vaccine is not suitable, there is an alternative this year. Please speak to your child’s nurse or doctor about your options. If your child is school aged, an alternative will be offered at school or a community clinic.
Covid-19 autumn booster vaccination
Some people are being offered a Covid booster vaccination this autumn, this includes health and social care workers, anyone over 50 and people with health conditions. You will be offered a booster dose at least six months after you had your last dose. Visit the NHS website to find out more about the Covid-19 booster vaccine and who can get it.
If you are offered both vaccines, it's safe to have them at the same time.
Frequently asked questions
Is the vaccine safe?
The flu vaccines have a good safety record. Flu vaccines that have been licensed in England have been thoroughly tested before they're made available and have been used in other countries with a good safety record. Serious side effects of the injected flu vaccine are very rare.
What about the nasal vaccine?
The children's nasal spray flu vaccine is safe and effective. It's offered every year to children to help protect them against flu. The nasal spray is squirted up each nostril. It's quick and painless.
The nasal spray contains small traces of a highly processed form of porcine gelatine. The gelatine helps to keep the vaccine viruses stable.
Some faith groups accept the use of gelatine in medical products - the decision is up to you. There is more information available on the Gov.UK site.
If the nasal spray vaccine is not suitable, please speak to your child’s nurse or doctor about your options
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 for more advice and information.
What are the ingredients of the flu vaccine?
There are several types of injected flu vaccine. None of them contain live viruses so they cannot give you flu.
If you can have the flu vaccine on the NHS, you'll be offered one that's most effective for you, depending on your age:
• adults aged 18 to 64 – there are different types, including low-egg and egg-free ones
• adults aged 65 and over – the most common one contains an extra ingredient to help your immune system make a stronger response to the vaccine
• The flu vaccination is given as a nasal spray to most children. See the information above or find out more from the NHS
• Children aged between six months and two years who have a long-term health condition are offered an approved injected flu vaccine instead of the nasal spray vaccine
Talk to a GP, practice nurse or pharmacist for more information about the vaccines.
Last updated: 24 August 2022