Getting your flu vaccine

News 01 November 2023
Our Cardiomyopathy Specialist Nurses, Jayne and Emma, have shared their guidance and answered the most commonly asked questions surrounding the 2023 flu vaccinations.

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, can cause pneumonia.

The free seasonal flu vaccination will be made available from September 2023, it is therefore advised to take your flu vaccine when offered because:

  • It’s important for us to be protected to avoid having flu and COVID infection at the same time.
  • It will help the NHS, the more people who are vaccinated against the flu mean fewer people will need NHS treatment, reducing strain on NHS services.

During the 2023- 2024 season, the flu vaccination is available in England to:

  • children aged 2-3 years on 31st August 2023
  • eligible school-aged children ( reception to year 11)
  • those aged 6 months to under 65 years of age in clinical risk groups *
  • all those aged 65 years or over
  • those in long-stay residential care homes
  • carers in receipt of carers allowance or main carer of an older or disabled person
  • household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals
  • frontline health and social care staff

*People diagnosed with long-term heart conditions such as cardiomyopathy and heart failure are included in the heart condition category in clinical at-risk groups and are entitled to receive their flu vaccination.

Clinical risk group chronic heart disease and vascular disease: Congenital heart disease, hypertension with cardiac complications, chronic heart failure, individuals requiring regular medication and/or follow-up for ischaemic heart disease. This includes individuals with atrial fibrillation, peripheral vascular disease or a history of venous thromboembolism.

Should my child receive their flu vaccination?

For children with Cardiomyopathy, receiving the influenza vaccination is a crucial step in safeguarding their health, especially during the flu season. Children with Cardiomyopathy are more susceptible to catching and spreading the flu easily.  Vaccination helps protect your child and others around them.

All children between 2 years and 17 years are offered the Flu spray free on the NHS. Children with Cardiomyopathy are offered it from 6 months to 2 years and it is offered as an injection. This is because the nasal spray is not licensed for children under 2 years old. Speak with your child’s cardiac Nurse specialist or GP practice to ensure your child receives the right treatment. Children of school age will be vaccinated at school and under school age via the GP. Flu vaccines are very safe. Side effects of the nasal spray flu vaccine are mild and do not last long. They include:

  • a runny or blocked nose
  • a headache
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite

For the injected flu vaccine, most side effects are also mild and do not last long.

  • a sore arm (or thigh) where the injection was given
  • a slightly raised temperature
  • aching muscles

These side effects usually last for 1 or 2 days.

When should I get my flu vaccination?

It’s advisable to get vaccinated as soon as you are offered the vaccine, and before the 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-19 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 for most people. 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.

Where can I find more information?
  • Information from the NHS about the flu vaccination can be found here.
  • Information for Scotland is available here.
  • Information for Wales is available here.
Speak to a Specialist Nurse

Call our nurses helpline on 0800 018 1024, the lines are open Monday to Friday, from 8:30am - 4:30pm. You can also email or open a live chat here on our website.

Find out more

Return to news