The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine that is offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications.
The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn before flu starts spreading. But you can get the vaccine later.
Unlike a common cold the flu can appear very quickly and affects more than just the nose and throat. You might be able to get through the day with a common cold but with the flu, it is much more challenging.
Flu Vaccine and Coronavirus
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.
Flu differs from Coronavirus. If you are experiencing a new continuous cough, loss of taste or smell or a high temperature then you may have Coronavirus. Get a test as soon as possible and stay at home until you receive your results.
Who is Eligible for the Flu Vaccine?
The flu vaccine is offered to everyone over the age of 65. It is also offered to those living with serious long term health conditions. If you suffer with asthma, diabetes, certain heart conditions, hepatitis, certain neurological conditions, those with weakened immune systems and those with a learning disability.
If you are aged 50-64 and live with a health condition, you also might be more at risk from the flu. You should also think about vaccination as soon as it becomes available.
This year with the spread of COVID-19 the flu vaccination is also being offered to those who live with someone on the NHS shielded list. This is anyone at higher risk from Coronavirus. Those who receive carer’s allowance or are the main carer of someone at higher risk are also eligible.
Frontline social care and health workers, including those working in education should also be offered the vaccine by their employers. They may also be able to get the vaccine and claim the cost back.
Protection Against Flu
The flu vaccine offers the best form of protection against seasonal flu. Whilst not 100% effective it is very likely that, if you get the flu after vaccination it shouldn’t be as bad, or last as long as it otherwise might. It will also drastically lower the chances of spreading the virus to someone at higher risk.
A lot of planning and changes have been put in place across pharmacies and GP surgeries so that that everyone can have their flu vaccine safely. Social distancing is playing a big part this year as well as hand washing and protective equipment. Things might look a little different if you have had the flu jab in the past. It is important to remember that the changes are to keep everyone safe.
You can get your flu vaccine at your local surgery, pharmacies that offer the service or your midwifery service if you are pregnant. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to flu vaccinations in the past or if you have an allergy to eggs then ask your GP or pharmacist for advice beforehand.
For help and advice about the flu vaccination contact your local pharmacist or GP surgery.
For more information on the flu visit NHS online