Flu vaccinations

  Flu vaccine and coronavirus (COVID-19)  

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.


If you’ve had COVID-19, it’s safe to have the flu vaccine. It’ll be effective at helping to prevent flu.




Who can have the flu vaccine?



The flu vaccine is given to people who:
  • are 65 and over (including those who’ll be 65 by 31 March 2022)
  • have certain health conditions
  • are pregnant
  • are in a 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’s at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)
  • frontline health or social care workers.



  Flu vaccine for people with long-term health conditions  
The flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS to anyone with a serious long-term health condition, including:


  Talk to your doctor if you have a long-term condition that is not in one of these groups. They should offer you the flu vaccine if they think you’re at risk of serious problems if you get flu.


Flu vaccine for people who are pregnant  
  • You should have the flu vaccine if you’re pregnant to help protect you and your baby.
  • It’s safe to have the flu vaccine at any stage of pregnancy.

Find out more about the flu vaccine in pregnancy


  Flu vaccine for frontline health and social care workers  

If you are a frontline health and social care worker, your employer should offer you a flu vaccine. They may give the vaccine at your workplace.

You may be able to have the flu vaccine at a GP surgery or a pharmacy, if you are a health or social care worker employed by a:

  • registered residential care or nursing home
  • registered homecare organisation
  • hospice

You can also have the flu vaccine if you provide health or social care through direct payments or personal health budgets, or both.


  Who should not have the flu vaccine  

Most adults can have the flu vaccine, but you should avoid it if you have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past.

You may be at risk of an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine injection if you have an egg allergy. This is because some flu vaccines are made using eggs.

Ask a GP or pharmacist for a low-egg or egg-free vaccine.

If you are ill with a high temperature, it’s best to wait until you are better before having the flu vaccine.


  How effective is the flu vaccine?  

How effective is the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine 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 the flu vaccine will also stop you spreading flu to other people who may 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. Most side effects are mild and only last for a day or so, such as:

  • slightly raised temperature
  • muscle aches
  • sore arm where the needle went in – this is more likely to happen with the vaccine for people aged 65 and over.

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.
  Allergic reactions to the flu vaccine  

It’s very rare for anyone to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to the flu vaccine. If this does happen, it usually happens within minutes.

The person who vaccinates you will be trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.


  The flu vaccine cannot give you flu  

None of the flu vaccines contains live viruses so they cannot cause flu.

If you are unwell after vaccination, you may have something else. Or you may have caught flu before your vaccination had worked.


  Flu vaccine ingredients  

There are several types of injected flu vaccine. None of them contains live viruses so they are called inactivated vaccines.

If you’re eligible for the flu vaccine on the NHS, you’ll be offered one that’s most effective for you, depending on your age:

  • adults aged 18 to 64 – there are different types, including low-egg and egg-free ones
  • adults aged 65 and over – the most common one contains an extra ingredient to help your immune system make a stronger response to the vaccine

Talk to a GP, practice nurse or pharmacist for more information about these vaccines.

Information: Read more about why vaccines are safe and important, including how they work and what they contain.


Useful information

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