The seasonal flu vaccination

The seasonal flu vaccination

Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever this winter due to the likelihood that flu and Covid-19 will both be in circulation. The NHS flu vaccination programme has been expanded this year, with more people than ever eligible for a free flu vaccine.

GPs and pharmacies have put infection control practices in place to make it safer for vulnerable people to come and get vaccinated.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

You should ensure you get your free NHS flu vaccine if you are in any of the following groups:

  • Adults 65 and over
  • People with certain medical conditions (including children in at-risk groups from 6 months of age)
  • People on the NHS Shielded Patient list
  • Pregnant women
  • Children aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2020
  • Children in primary school and year 7
  • Frontline health and social care workers, including personal assistants employed through personal budgets
  • The main carer of an older, disabled person or if you receive carers allowance
  • A household contact of someone on the NHS Shielded Patient list

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 may be contacted about a flu vaccine later in the year, subject to availability of vaccine stock.

Find out more about who should have the flu vaccine on the NHS website.

If you have received an invitation letter from your GP practice, you will be able to receive a vaccination from your GP practice or any participating pharmacy until 31st March 2021. Please ensure you book an appointment with either your GP or pharmacy as it is even more important this year that those eligible for the free NHS vaccine take up the offer.

To find your nearest participating pharmacy text ‘Pharmacy Flu’ and your post code to 80011. However, you may find that you need to try more than one pharmacy to get an appointment that suits you, due to an increased uptake of the flu vaccine this year. Appointments will be available throughout the winter.

Will the flu vaccine protect me against Covid-19?

The flu vaccine won’t protect you against Covid-19. But it will help protect you against flu, which is an unpleasant and potentially serious infection that can cause complications leading to hospital admission. Helping to protect against flu is particularly important with Covid-19 in circulation because people vulnerable to Covid-19 are also at risk of complications from flu.

Which type of flu vaccine should I have?

There are several types of flu vaccine. You’ll be offered the one that’s most effective for your age:

  • Children aged 2 to 17 in an eligible group are offered a live attenuated quadrivalent vaccine (LAIV), given as a nasal spray
  • Adults with learning disabilities are also eligible for the nasal spray if appropriate
  • Adults aged 18 to 64 who are either pregnant, or at increased risk from flu because of a long-term health condition, are offered an inactivated quadrivalent injected vaccine – the vaccine offered will have been grown either in eggs or cells (QIVe or QIVc), which are considered to be equally suitable
  • Adults aged 65 and over will be offered either an inactivated adjuvanted trivalent injected vaccine grown in eggs (aTIV) or an inactivated cell-grown quadrivalent injected vaccine (QIVc) – both vaccines are considered to be equally suitable.

If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years old and is in a high-risk group for flu, they’ll be offered an injected flu vaccine as the nasal spray is not licensed for children under 2.

Talk to a GP, practice nurse or pharmacist for more information about these vaccines.

You can find further information on seasonal flu – including common symptoms and treatment options – by visiting the NHS Flu web pages or by downloading the flu leaflet or easy read guide.

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