Flu is caused by the influenza virus, which infects the windpipe and lungs. Some people are more likely to become more poorly if they catch flu. Flu can sometimes make existing conditions worse even if your condition is stable, and in some people than can cause pneumonia.
The free seasonal flu vaccination will be made available to over 35 million people and it’s more important than ever this year because:
- Our immunity to flu may be less as we were all indoors more last year, we were social distancing and wearing masks when out in public places. Mixing in our communities helps to build up our immunity.
- It’s important for us to be protected to avoid having flu and COVID infection at the same time.
- We will help the NHS, the more people who are vaccinated against flu will mean less people will need NHS treatment reducing strain on NHS services.
During the 2021- 2022 season (which started in September) the flu vaccination is available to:
- Those aged 6 months to 49 years of age in clinical risk groups *
- Pregnant women
- Those aged 50 & over
- Children of a certain age
- Unpaid carers
- Close contacts of immunosuppressed people
- Frontline health and social care staff
*People diagnosed with a long term heart condition such as cardiomyopathy and/or heart failure are included in the heart condition category in clinical at risk groups and are entitled to receive their flu vaccination.
When should I get my Flu vaccination?
It’s advisable to get vaccinated as soon as you are offered the vaccine, and before flu starts to circulate more widely. Don’t worry if you don’t have it in the autumn, you can still receive it in the winter months if supplies are available.
If you would like your flu vaccine you can speak to your GP surgery, or wait to be invited. You can also speak to your community pharmacist and ask if they can arrange for you to have it. The flu vaccine is free on the NHS to those who are eligible. If you pay for your flu vaccine, you can get it from your community pharmacy or even some high-street supermarkets.
Will I get flu from the flu vaccine?
No, there are no live viruses in the vaccine. you might have some mild side effects which can include soreness around the injection site and aching muscles which are much less serious than the effects of contracting flu.
Can I receive my flu vaccine at the same time as my COVID booster?
Flu vaccination and COVID booster vaccination may be offered at the same appointment. The medicines regulator has reviewed the evidence and decided that it is safe to do so. In some cases they may be given separately at any interval.
Why do I need a flu vaccination every year?
The flu virus changes every year so the vaccine is updated every year to provide protection so it is important to be vaccinated every year.
Information from the NHS about the flu vaccination can be found here Flu vaccine - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Jayne Partridge, October 2021.
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