Seasonal Flu Vaccination
Flu Vaccine Update
Patients aged 18 - 64yrs with underlying health condition(s). Appointments may be booked
Patients aged 50 - 64yrs with no other at risk features - Appointments may be booked
We have supplies of flu vaccine for patients aged over 65yrs. Appointments for a flu jab may be booked. There are extra flu clinics running on a Monday - Friday to ensure everybody who wants the flu vacconation can obtain it quickly and easily.
Last updated: 25 February 2021 06:56hrs
Seasonal Flu Vaccination
Flu (also known as influenza) is a highly infectious illness caused by the flu virus. It spreads rapidly through small droplets coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person. For most people, flu is unpleasant but not serious. You will usually recover within a week.
Studies have shown that flu vaccines provide effective protection against the flu, although protection may not be complete and may vary between people. Protection from the vaccine gradually decreases and flu strains change over time. Therefore, new vaccines are made each year and people at risk of flu are encouraged to be vaccinated every year.
The flu vaccination is offered to people in at-risk groups. These people are at greater risk of developing serious complications if they catch flu, such as pregnant women and elderly people.
Should I get the Flu Vaccination?
The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It's offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications.
This page is about the flu vaccine for adults.
The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn before flu starts spreading. But you can get the vaccine later.
Flu vaccine and coronavirus (COVID-19)
Flu vaccination is important because:
- if you're at higher risk from coronavirus, you're also more at risk of problems from flu
- if you get flu and coronavirus at the same time, research shows you're more likely to be seriously ill
- it'll help to reduce pressure on the NHS and social care staff who may be dealing with coronavirus
If you've had COVID-19, it's safe to have the flu vaccine. It'll be effective at helping to prevent flu.
Changes have been made to make sure it's safe for you to have the flu vaccine at GP surgeries and pharmacies. These changes include social distancing, hand washing and wearing protective equipment.
It's important to go to your appointments unless you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus.
Who can have the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine is given to people who:
- are 65 and over (including those who'll be 65 by 31 March 2021)
- have certain health conditions
- are pregnant
- are in a 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's at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)
- frontline health or social care workers
Advice for people aged 50 to 64
If you're aged 50 to 64 and have a health condition that means you're more at risk from flu, you should get your flu vaccine as soon as possible.
Other 50- to 64-year-olds will be contacted about a flu vaccine later.
Where to get the flu vaccine
You can have the NHS flu vaccine at:
- your GP surgery
- a pharmacy offering the service
- your midwifery service if you're pregnant
If you have your flu vaccine at a pharmacy, you do not have to tell the GP. The pharmacist should tell them.
All adult flu vaccines are given by injection into the muscle of the upper arm.
Flu vaccine for people with long-term health conditions
The flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS to anyone with a serious long-term health condition, including:
- respiratory conditions, such as asthma (needing steroid inhaler or tablets), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and bronchitis
- heart conditions, such as coronary heart disease or heart failure
- being very overweight – a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above
- chronic kidney disease
- liver disease, such as hepatitis
- neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
- a learning disability
- problems with your spleen, for example, sickle cell disease, or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or taking medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
Talk to your doctor if you have a long-term condition that is not in one of these groups. They should offer you the flu vaccine if they think you're at risk of serious problems if you get flu.
Flu vaccine for people who are pregnant
You should have the flu vaccine if you're pregnant to help protect you and your baby.
It's safe to have the flu vaccine at any stage of pregnancy.
Flu vaccine for frontline health and social care workers
If you're a frontline health and social care worker, your employer should offer you a flu vaccine. They may give the vaccine at your workplace.
You may be able to have the flu vaccine at a GP surgery or a pharmacy, if you're a health or social care worker employed by a:
- registered residential care or nursing home
- registered homecare organisation
You can also have the flu vaccine if you provide health or social care through direct payments or personal health budgets, or both.
Who should not have the flu vaccine
Most adults can have the flu vaccine, but you should avoid it if you have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past.
You may be at risk of an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine injection if you have an egg allergy. This is because some flu vaccines are made using eggs.
Ask a GP or pharmacist for a low-egg or egg-free vaccine.
If you're ill with a high temperature, it's best to wait until you're better before having the flu vaccine.
How effective is the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine gives the best protection against flu.
Flu vaccines help protect against the main types of flu viruses, although there's still a chance you might get flu.
If you do get flu after vaccination, it's likely to be milder and not last as long.
Having the flu vaccine will also stop you spreading flu to other people who may be more at risk of serious problems from flu.
It can take 10 to 14 days for the flu vaccine to work.
Flu vaccine side effects
Flu vaccines are very safe. Most side effects are mild and only last for a day or so, such as:
- slightly raised temperature
- muscle aches
- sore arm where the needle went in – this is more likely to happen with the vaccine for people aged 65 and over
Try these tips to help reduce the discomfort:
- continue to move your arm regularly
- take a painkiller, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen – some people, including those who are pregnant, should not take ibuprofen unless a doctor recommends it
Allergic reactions to the flu vaccine
It's very rare for anyone to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to the flu vaccine. If this does happen, it usually happens within minutes.
The person who vaccinates you will be trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.
The flu vaccine cannot give you flu
None of the flu vaccines contains live viruses so they cannot cause flu.
If you are unwell after vaccination, you may have something else. Or you may have caught flu before your vaccination had worked.
Flu vaccine ingredients
There are several types of injected flu vaccine. None of them contains live viruses so they are called inactivated vaccines.
If you're eligible for 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
Talk to a GP, practice nurse or pharmacist for more information about these vaccines.
Read more about why vaccines are safe and important, including how they work and what they contain.
Who should not have the flu vaccination?
You should not have the flu vaccine if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a flu vaccine or one of its ingredients. This happens very rarely.
Is this year's vaccine safe?
Although no medical procedure is totally free of risk, flu vaccines are generally very safe. The most common reaction to the jab is a sore arm, or you may feel hot for a day or two after the vaccination.
This year’s flu jabs have been tested and approved for use across the UK and in Europe. The jab cannot give you flu because it doesn't contain any active viruses.
The Department of Health recommends that everyone who is eligible for a flu jab should have it as soon as the vaccine is available.
If you are in an at-risk group and do not have the jab, you will have a greater risk of developing serious complications or even dying if you get flu this winter.
If you haven't had the flu vaccine and you are in a risk group, make an appointment to get vaccinated.
Find out more about the flu vaccine, including how the vaccine is made and how it protects you.
Flu vaccine for children
Who should have the nasal spray flu vaccine
The nasal spray flu vaccine is free on the NHS for:
- children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2020 – born between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2018
- all primary school children (reception to year 6)
- all year 7 in secondary school
- children aged 2 to 17 years with long-term health conditions
If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years and is in a high-risk group for flu, they'll be offered a flu vaccine injection instead of the nasal spray.
This is because the nasal spray is not licensed for children under 2 years.
Children aged 2 to 17 years may also have the flu vaccine injection if the nasal spray vaccine is not suitable for them.