This is anything but a typical year, due to the potential impact of flu and COVID-19 circulating at the same time. It is important to protect yourself and others from the flu virus.
Access an Easy Read version of this page
Public Health England Easy Read on the flu vaccination
Books Beyond Words – Having a Flu Vaccine
What is the flu?
Flu is a viral infection and is a highly infectious illness which spreads rapidly in closed communities and even people with mild or no symptoms can infect others.
Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, aching muscles and fatigue. For more healthy people, flu symptoms can make you feel exhausted and unwell.
However, flu can be deadly. Around 11,000 people die annually due to flu-related complications.
Flu is spread through coughing and sneezing when infected.
Flu can be serious and can be easily spread to those who are more vulnerable.
The flu vaccination is the best protection for you and can help stop the spread of the virus to those around you including the more vulnerable.
The flu vaccine protects you, your family and the people you care for from flu.
Vaccination means less staff sickness from flu, helping the NHS and social care to keep running effectively during a flu outbreak when services are particularly busy.
You can give flu to your family and those you care for even if you don’t have any symptoms. Staff who aren’t vaccinated may unknowingly pass on flu to those who are at increased risk from the virus.
Those you support feel safer and are more likely to get vaccinated when they know the people who care for them are vaccinated.
How effective is the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine will help prevent you getting the flu and is your best protection against the virus. It will not stop all flu viruses but if you do get flu after vaccination, it’s likely to be milder and shorter-lived than it would otherwise have been.
Can the flu vaccine cause flu?
No. The injectable vaccine does not contain any live viruses, so it cannot cause flu. You may get a slight temperature, and your arm may feel a bit sore where you had the injection. Other reactions are rare.
How long does the flu vaccine take to become effective?
It takes between 10 to 14 days for your immune system to respond fully after you’ve had the flu jab.
I had the flu vaccination last year. Do I need to have it again?
Yes. The viruses that cause flu can change every year, which means the flu (and the vaccine) this year may be different from last year.
Why is it particularly important to get the flu vaccine this year?
With COVID-19 in circulation it’s especially important to get the flu vaccine this year. The flu jab won’t protect you against coronavirus, but it will help stop you spreading flu to the people you support, many of whom are vulnerable to both.
Who is eligible for a free vaccination?
This year the flu vaccine is being offered on the NHS to:
- adults 65 and over. You’re eligible for the flu vaccine this year (2020 to 2021) if you’ll be aged 65 or over on 31 March 2021. That is, you were born on or before 31 March 1956. So, if you’re currently 64 but will be 65 by 31 March 2021, you do qualify.
- people with certain medical conditions (including children in at-risk groups from 6 months of age)
- pregnant women
- people living with someone who’s at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)
- children aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2020
- children in primary school
- children in year 7 (secondary school)
- frontline health or social care workers
- Later in the year, the flu vaccine may be given to people aged 50 to 64. More information will be available later in the autumn.
- However, if you’re aged 50 to 64 and in an at-risk group, you should not delay having your flu vaccine.
Where can I get a free vaccination?
You can have your NHS flu vaccine at, your GP surgery, a local pharmacy offering the service, your midwifery service if they offer it for pregnant women.
Most community pharmacies now offer flu vaccination to adults (but not children) at risk from flu, including pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, people with long-term health conditions and carers.
If you have your flu vaccine at a pharmacy, you do not have to inform a GP. It’s up to the pharmacist to do that.
Who can I contact for more information?
Talk to a GP, practice nurse or pharmacist for more information about vaccination.
Ask your pharmacist or GP if you’re eligible for a free flu vaccination today.