NHS London’s medical director urges eligible people to get their free flu jab as hospitalisations remain high

NHS leaders in London are encouraging those who are eligible to get their free NHS flu vaccine as there are hundreds of people in the capital still in hospital with flu, as levels of flu circulating remain high.

With hospital admission rates for flu currently matching the highest rates in the years just before the COVID-19 pandemic (2019/20 and 2018/19), the NHS is reminding people that it is not too late to get their flu vaccine and get protected. There are hundreds of sites offering the free flu jab for those eligible in London, which can be found on at

Hospitalisation rates are highest for older adults and young children.

In London, vaccine uptake in children aged two to three is behind last year’s figures. So far this year, 36.5% of two-year-olds and 35.9% of three- year-olds in the capital have received their vaccine, compared to 39.3% of two-year-olds and 40.5% of three-year-olds this time last year.

Pregnant women, especially those who may have missed out as they weren’t pregnant earlier in the flu season, are also encouraged to come forwards for the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their unborn baby.

With high flu levels and the recent return to school and work after the Christmas holidays, there is the potential for the virus to spread. Getting the flu vaccine can protect against serious illness and ending up in hospital, while also preventing the spread to others.

Those aged 50 and over, adults with a long-term health condition and pregnant women can make an appointment at their GP surgery or participating pharmacy.

For children, the flu vaccine is offered as a nasal spray, which is quick and painless. Parents and guardians of children aged two and three and children in high-risk groups can make an appointment through their GP surgery. Secondary school aged children are being vaccinated this month through schools and community clinics. If parents and guardians think their reception and primary school aged children have missed their flu vaccination, they should contact their local school-aged vaccination service or ask at their school if unsure.

Dr Chris Streather, Medical Director for the NHS in London said:

“It is not too late to get the flu vaccine. There are many local sites, including GP surgeries and pharmacies that are offering the free jab and getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent yourself becoming seriously ill with flu and potentially needing hospital care.

“I would encourage all those who are eligible to book their vaccine, while we are still experiencing extremely cold temperatures where viruses can spread more easily.

“The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this virus this winter.”