The flu jab is offered every year through the NHS to help protect people at risk of getting seriously ill from flu. The flu season runs from September to March and during these times we will offer various clinics to help get our eligible patients vaccinated.
Book your 2023/2024 flu vaccine today via:
- Online services such as SystmOnline or Aimid, if you're signed up for an account already.
- The link in your SMS invite (you will only receive an SMS if we have your mobile number on our records)
- At the practice, pop in to see one of our reception team who will be more than happy to book you an appointment
- Calling the practice, please help us to help you by only calling if you're unable to book via one of the other methods
Please note, if you book a flu vaccine and you are not eligible, you will be turned away at your appointment
Flu vaccines for Adults
A flu vaccine is given to people who:
- are 65 and over (including those who will be 65 by 31 March 2024)
- have certain health conditions
- are pregnant
- are in long-stay residential care
- receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
- live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system, such as someone living with HIV, someone who has had a transplant, or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
Flu vaccines for Children
The children's nasal spray flu vaccine is given to:
- children aged 2 or 3 on 31 August 2023 (born between 1 September 2019 and 31 August 2021)
- all primary school children
- some secondary school children
- children aged 2 to 17 with certain health conditions
Flu vaccine for people with long-term health conditions
The flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS to people with certain long-term health conditions, including:
- respiratory conditions, such as asthma (needing a steroid inhaler or tablets), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and bronchitis
- heart conditions, such as coronary heart disease or heart failure
- being very overweight – a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above
- chronic kidney disease
- liver disease, such as cirrhosis or hepatitis
- some neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
- a learning disability
- problems with your spleen like sickle cell disease, or if you've had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as a result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or taking medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
Myth: Flu jabs give you the flu
Fact: The adult vaccination doesn't contain the live virus which means that it's not possible for you to contract influenza from the vaccine itself. The vaccine does take 10-14 days to become effective from the date of administration, so there is an unfortunate possibility that you could catch the flu during this period, which is why it's important that you get the vaccine as soon as you're able to do so. Some patients may experience a systemic vaccine response which feels a bit like a mild viral illness, but most patients will experience minimal side effects that usually subside after a day or two and can be managed with normal pain relief.
Myth: Once you've had the flu vaccine, you're protected for life
Fact: A flu vaccination is not a life-long protection against flu. Each year the virus changes so the component of the vaccination changes. The vaccine usually provides protection for the duration of the flu season that year. The World Health Organization predicts which flu viruses will be circulating and these are different every year.
Myth: Vegetarian/Vegans can't have the vaccine
Fact: Some flu vaccines do come with an egg allergy risk because they’re made using eggs. In recent years, flu vaccines that are egg-free have become available. If an egg-free flu vaccine is not available, we may be able to find a suitable flu vaccine with a low egg content.
The nasal spray Fluenz Tetra which is used to immunise children contains pork gelatine. Gelatine is used in the children's nasal flu vaccine because it is an effective stabiliser which helps to preserve the drug and make sure it remains safe and effective while it's stored and transported. There are alternatives to the gelatine nasal spray however, they are less effective.
Myth: It’s already too late if you’ve had flu this year
Fact: While it is better to have the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available, it’s always worth getting vaccinated before the end of the flu season (March). As there are usually several flu viruses circulating each year, you could go on to catch another strain.
Myth: Flu only affects the very young or the very old
Fact: While complications from the flu are most dangerous for the very young or elderly, the flu can hit strong and healthy people hard – it’s more than a heavy cold.
Myth: Getting vaccinated guarentees you can't get the flu
Fact: It takes between 10-14 days after getting vaccinated to build up immunity to the flu, and you could still contract the flu during this period, however, vaccination gives the best protection against flu. If you do get flu after vaccination, it's likely to be milder and not last as long. Having a flu vaccine may help stop you spreading flu to other people who could be more at risk of serious problems from flu.
Myth: The flu vaccine side effects are worse than getting the flu
Fact: Most side effects are mild and only last for a day or so. The most common side effects are; a slightly raised temperature, muscle aches and a sore arm where the needle went in – this is more likely to happen with one of the vaccines for people aged 65 and over. These side effects usually subside within 2 days of having the vaccine. To reduce discomfort, you should; continue to move your arm regularly and take regular pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen if you are able to – some people, including those who are pregnant, should not take ibuprofen unless a doctor recommends it
How effective is the flu vaccine?
Vaccination gives the best protection against flu.
Flu vaccines help protect against the main types of flu viruses, although there's still a chance you might get flu.
If you do get flu after vaccination, it's likely to be milder and not last as long.
Having a flu vaccine may help stop you spreading flu to other people who could be more at risk of serious problems from flu.
It can take 10 to 14 days for the flu vaccine to work.
Flu vaccine side effects
Flu vaccines are very safe. All adult flu vaccines are given by injection into the muscle of the upper arm.
Most side effects are mild and only last for a day or so, such as:
- a slightly raised temperature
- muscle aches
- sore arm where the needle went in
Try these tips to help reduce the discomfort:
- continue to move your arm regularly
- take a painkiller, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen – some people, including those who are pregnant, should not take ibuprofen unless a doctor recommends it