People urged to get flu jab

Date published: 01 November 2017

The seasonal flu vaccination programme is under way. People are urged to get the jab if offered it. The free flu vaccine offers protection against a number of viruses which are expected to circulate this winter.

Important to get vaccinated

Everyone who gets an invitation to be vaccinated against flu should see it as a positive step in protecting their health and the health of others around them.

The vaccine changes each year to cover the strains which are likely to be around over the course of the flu season, so it's important to get immunised every year.

People aged over 65, ‘at risk’ children and adults, pregnant women, and pre-school children aged two years and over can get their free flu jab at their GP surgery.

Children in primaries one to seven will be offered the flu vaccine in school.

The vaccine is offered as the best protection to people over 65 and ‘at risk’ groups because if they get flu, they are more likely to have severe illness and/ or develop complications such as pneumonia, which can be life-threatening.

The vaccine does not give people the flu.

You can find out more at the page below:

If eligible, you should receive a letter or phone call from your GP surgery. If you think you are (or someone you know is) eligible and there hasn't been an invitation to get the jab, or if you have any queries, you should contact your GP directly.

As it takes approximately two weeks following vaccination to develop maximum protection against flu, it is important to get vaccinated early.

If you wait until flu starts circulating, it may be too late for the vaccine to protect you.

Everyone should aim to have the vaccine by early December.

Pregnant women

Pregnant women are more likely to have serious illness if they catch flu.

They will be invited at all stages of pregnancy to get the vaccine by their GP, to help protect them and their unborn baby.


Pre-school and primary school children will be offered the vaccine.

Parents are asked to sign and send back the consent form to school for their primary school children, and to take up the GP’s invitation for pre-school vaccination, or they may miss out.

Most children get the vaccine through a quick and painless nasal spray. The nasal vaccine has been shown to provide even greater protection for children than the flu injection.

There are a few children who cannot get the nasal spray and they will be offered the injection instead.

You can find out more on the Flu vaccine for children page.

Flu symptoms

The flu virus spreads easily and quickly through the air when people cough and sneeze without covering their nose and mouth.

The same unpleasant flu symptoms are experienced by both adults and children:

  • fever
  • chills
  • aching muscles and joints
  • headache
  • extreme tiredness 

These symptoms can last between two and eight days and, for some, can lead to serious illness and result in a stay in hospital.

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