- What is flu?
- What are the symptoms of flu?
- Who is at greatest risk from flu?
- Why should I be vaccinated?
- Where can I get vaccinated?
- When can I get vaccinated?
- How often do I need to be vaccinated?
- Am I eligible for a free vaccination?
- Will a flu vaccination give me flu?
- How does a flu vaccination work?
- How are flu vaccines produced?
Who is at greatest risk from flu?
Anyone can catch flu, but the symptoms can be more severe, or you may be at increased risk of complications1 if:
- You are aged 65 and over
- You are pregnant
- You have diabetes
- You have problems with your spleen or you have had your spleen removed
- You have a weak immune system (also known as immunosuppression)
- You have chronic heart, kidney or liver disease
- You have chronic respiratory disease (including severe asthma, COPD or bronchitis)
- You have chronic neurological disease
- You have had a stroke or Transient Ischaemic Attack
- You are morbidly obese (adults with BMI > or equal 40 Kg/m2)
Children in certain age groups will be offered a free flu vaccination on the NHS. Please check eligibility with your GP or school nurse1.
What are the increased risks?
If you fit into any of the above categories, you may be at increased risk of catching flu in the first place, or experiencing flu symptoms more severely than the general population2.
Depending on your health condition, you may also be at increased risk of developing serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia2. Flu could make your existing condition worse, you are more likely to require hospitalisation, and in some cases it may even lead to death3.
Carers and health workers or social workers
If you are a carer, front line health or social care worker, you are at risk passing on the flu virus to others4, who may be vulnerable to developing complications such as bronchitis, pneumonia or even death4.
Protecting yourself from flu
Vaccination is the most effective way to avoid catching flu5 and many people are eligible for a free vaccination on the NHS (particularly adults and children with chronic health conditions).
If you receive a carer’s allowance, you may also be eligible for free vaccination on the NHS. Or if you are a frontline healthcare worker or social worker, your employer should arrange and pay for a flu vaccination for you5.
Influenza vaccine should be offered to children not in clinical risk groups that are eligible for vaccination as part of the ongoing phased roll out of the extension of the National Immunisation Programme to all children aged two to less than seventeen years old6.*
* Ask your GP, practice nurse, school nurse or other healthcare professional for more information.
You can get your free NHS flu vaccination** at your GP surgery or in a pharmacy, while most pharmacies in the UK also offer private jabs.
** Free NHS jabs are available only to those who fall within the current risk categories.
- Public Health England. National flu immunisation programme plan for 2018 to 2019. March 2018. Available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-flu-immunisation-programme-plan (accessed July 2018)
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Q&A on seasonal influenza. Available online: https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/seasonal-influenza/facts/questions-and-answers-seasonal-influenza (accessed July 2018)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications. January 2018. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm (accessed July 2018)
- NHS Choices. Who should have the flu vaccine. July 2016. Available online: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/who-should-have-flu-vaccine.aspx (accessed July 2018)
- World Health Organization. Influenza (Seasonal) Fact Sheet, January 2018. Available online: http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal) (accessed July 2018)
- Public Health England. Immunisation against infectious disease: the green book. Chapter 19: Influenza, August 2018. Available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_
(accessed September 2018)