Flu vaccination

Flu occurs every year, usually in the winter. Sometimes flu can lead to serious illnesses or make existing conditions worse. The best way to protect yourself is to get the free seasonal flu vaccine if your GP offers you the vaccine.

People who should get the vaccine

Some people are at greater risk from the effects of flu and should get the vaccine.  There's an increased risk if:

  • you're pregnant
  • you're aged 65 or over, even if you feel fit and healthy
  • you live in a residential or nursing home
  • you're the main carer for an elderly or disabled person. Ask your GP if you should be vaccinated so you can continue caring for the person

Children should get the flu vaccine if:

  • they were previously in hospital with a chest infection
  • they attend a school for children with severe learning difficulties

People with illnesses or health conditions

Children over six months old and adults should get the vaccine if they have:

Protection against common flu strains

Each year the flu vaccine protects against the three most common strains of flu. You are more at risk from flu complications if you fall into any of the categories listed above. In the worst cases, flu can result in a stay in hospital or even death. 

You should get the vaccine even if you got it last year and you feel fit and healthy now.

Flu vaccine in pregnancy

Flu infection during pregnancy can be very harmful to mother and baby. Serious complications include:

The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women and their babies. If you're pregnant, you should get the vaccine to protect you and your baby from flu, regardless of your stage of pregnancy.  

To get the vaccine, contact your GP.

Flu vaccine and allergic reactions

If you had an anaphylactic reaction to a previous flu vaccine, you shouldn't get vaccinated again.

If you're pregnant and have a serious allergy to hens' eggs, you should discuss this or any other serious allergy with your GP.

How the flu vaccine works

The flu vaccine cannot give you flu. The vaccine is made from small parts of the flu virus.

A week after you get the vaccine, your body makes antibodies to the vaccine viruses. These antibodies help protect you against flu.

Flu vaccine for children

The annual flu vaccination programme includes:

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