7 September 2021

What is flu?

Flu is an unpleasant disease that spreads quickly and easily through coughing and sneezing. Flu can also give you headaches, a sore throat, fever, chills, and muscle and joint aches. Those people who are at risk, either because of their age or medical conditions, may develop complications such as chest infections and pneumonia.

Why get the vaccine?

The vaccine provides the best available protection against flu. It is not 100% effective but it will protect a significant number of people and reduce the severity of flu if you get it. It could also help your relatives or carers because you will not be passing the disease to them.

Who is eligible to get a flu vaccine?

  • all children aged 2 to 15 (but not 16 years or older) on 31 August 2021
  • those aged 6 months to under 50 years in clinical risk groups
  • pregnant women
  • those aged 50 years and over
  • those in long-stay residential care homes
  • carers
  • close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
  • frontline health and social care staff employed by
    • a registered residential care or nursing home
    • registered domiciliary care provider o a voluntary managed hospice provider
    • Direct Payment (personal budgets) and/or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants.

I am not eligible for a free flu vaccine; can I still get a flu vaccine?

Yes of course! If you would like to have a flu vaccine you can pay to have one at your local pharmacy.

I’ve heard that the vaccination can give you flu. Is that true?

No; the flu vaccine that is given to adults is made from dead flu virus and cannot cause the infection.

The flu vaccine that will be given to most children is a live vaccine, but the viruses in it have been weakened so they can not cause flu.

You may get some side effects after the vaccination but these are quite mild like a slightly raised temperature or aching muscles for a couple of days or an ache in the arm where the injection was given. Other reactions are very rare.

When can I get the vaccine?

The vaccine is available now and you just need to contact the surgery on {practice to fill in details} to book an appointment. You can also have the vaccination in a pharmacy.

Will the flu vaccine protect me against Covid-19?

Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against Covid-19, however, it can help keep you safe from getting the flu, which in turn will help you stay healthy and well.

I think I have coronavirus symptoms – should I still come in for a vaccination?

The symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A new continuous cough
  • A high temperature
  • A loss of taste and/or smell

If you have any of these symptoms, then do not attend your flu vaccination appointment. This can be rescheduled.

If you have these symptoms you need to self-isolate and book in for a coronavirus test. You can do this by calling 119 or visiting NHS.uk. You can also order a home–testing kit.

How long will the vaccine protect me for?

The flu vaccine will provide protection for you for the upcoming flu season. People eligible for flu vaccination should have the vaccine each year.

How long does it take for the vaccine to become effective?

It takes between 10 and 14 days for your immune system to respond fully after you have had the flu vaccine.

I had the vaccination last year, do I need it this year?

Yes. The viruses that cause flu can change every year, which means the flu (and the vaccine) this winter may be different from last winter.

When is the best time to get the vaccination?

The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, before flu starts circulating. But even if it’s later, it’s always worth getting vaccinated.

Do I need to wear a face covering or mask when I get the vaccination?

Yes, it is likely that you will need to have a mask on when you have your vaccine. Your GP practice will be able to advise when you book.

Are children offered a nasal spray vaccination?

Yes. Children aged 2 and 3 (DOB range 01/09/2017-31/08/2019) will be given the vaccination at their GP surgery, usually by the practice nurse.

Children who are 4 years old are also eligible for flu vaccination provided they were 3 on 31 August 2021. These children should be offered the vaccination at their GP surgery.

I’ve already had the flu this autumn so I don’t need the vaccination

It’s still important to get your flu vaccine even if you have had flu this autumn. It can help protect you from getting it again.

I’m pregnant; will the flu jab affect my baby?

It’s safe to have at any stage of pregnancy, including in the first trimester and right up to the expected due date.

It helps protect the mother-to-be and newborn baby from catching flu.

Can flu be treated with antibiotics?

No unfortunately when you have flu, antibiotics will not help you feel better.

I am taking antibiotics, can I have the vaccine?

Yes, it’s fine to have the flu vaccine while you’re taking a course of antibiotics, provided you’re not ill with a high temperature