This is both an NHS & a Private Service
You are eligible to receive a free NHS flu jab if you:
- are 65 years of age or over
- are pregnant
- have certain medical conditions (see below)
- are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
- receive a carer’s allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
- are a healthcare worker with direct patient contact or a social care worker (see below)
If you are not eligible under the list above you can still have a private flu jab for a small fee.
Flu vaccination by injection, commonly known as the “flu jab” is available every year on the NHS to protect adults (and some children) at risk of flu and its complications.
Flu can be unpleasant, but if you are otherwise healthy it will usually clear up on its own within a week.
However, flu can be more severe in certain people such as:
- anyone over the age of 65
- pregnant women
- children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or respiratory disease)
- children and adults with weakened immune systems
Anyone in these risk groups is more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia (a lung infection), so it’s recommended that they have a flu vaccine every year to protect them.
How the flu jab works
Studies have shown that the flu jab definitely works and will help prevent you getting the flu. However, it won’t stop all flu viruses and the level of protection may vary between people, so it’s not a 100% guarantee that you’ll be flu-free.
Over time, protection from the injected flu vaccine gradually decreases and flu strains often change. So, new flu vaccines are produced each year which is why people advised to have the flu jab need it every year too.
Flu jab side effects
Serious side effects of the injected flu vaccine are very rare. You may have a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days after having the jab, and your arm may be a bit sore where you were injected.
When to have a flu jab
The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, from the beginning of October to early November, but don’t worry if you’ve missed it, you can have the vaccine later in winter if there are stocks left.
NHS Choices can give more information on the flu jab, the potential side effects, and who should not have the flu jab here.