As winter approaches, the NHS is preparing for this year’s flu season. For most healthy people, flu is an unpleasant but usually self-limiting disease with recovery generally within a week. However, some people are at risk of severe illness from catching flu, including older people, young children, pregnant women, and those with underlying illnesses.
The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine that helps to prevent serious illness from the flu. It can also help to prevent the spread of flu to other people around you.
Why is the flu vaccination important?
Flu vaccination is important because:
- more people are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic
- if you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, research shows you’re more likely to be seriously ill
- getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 will provide protection for you and those around you for both these serious illnesses
Who can get the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to people who:
- are children aged 2 to 15 (but not 16 years or older) on 31 August 2021
- are 50 and over (including those who’ll be 50 by 31 March 2022)
- 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
You can find out more about which health conditions are included on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/
If you are eligible for a free flu vaccine you can access it through your GP or local pharmacy.
If you are not eligible for a free NHS vaccine, you can book an appointment to pay for a flu vaccination at a local pharmacy.
Is this different from the COVID vaccine?
Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine protect against different illnesses, so it is still important to get the flu vaccination even if you have had your COVID-19 jab.
If you are offered a COVID booster and a flu jab around the same time, talk to your GP or whoever is providing the vaccine to check if you need to leave a gap between them.
- Flu vaccination: who should have it this winter and why – available in multiple languages as well as Braille (to order), Large Print and a BSL video
- Flu vaccination: easy-read flu vaccination resources
- Flu vaccination for children: leaflets and posters – available in multiple languages as well as Braille (to order) , Large Print and a BSL video