Getting the flu vaccine

There has never been a more important time to make sure you, and those you care for, are protected against serious illnesses such as the flu.

We are asking everyone who is at risk of being affected by the flu to get vaccinated this autumn. By having the flu vaccination, you will help protect yourself and others from what can be a severe, and sometimes fatal, illness which could lead to hospital treatment. You will also be helping to protect the NHS from coming under pressure this winter.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

This year the flu vaccine is being offered on the NHS to:

  • frontline health and social care workers
  • children aged 2 to 11 years old
  • pregnant women
  • members of a shielding household
  • adults aged 65 and older
  • people receiving a carer’s allowance, or the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if their carer falls ill

The flu vaccine is also being offered to those with a long-term health condition such as:

  • a heart problem
  • a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including bronchitis, emphysema or severe asthma
  • kidney disease
  • lowered immunity due to disease or treatment, such as steroid medication or cancer treatment
  • liver disease
  • a history of stroke or a transient ischaemic attack
  • diabetes
  • a neurological condition, such as multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy
  • a learning disability
  • a problem with your spleen, such as sickle cell disease, or you have had your spleen removed
  • being seriously overweight (BMI of 40 and above)

Adults aged 50 to 64 will be able to get their free flu vaccine from 1 December in the next phase of this year’s expanded flu vaccination programme. Individuals will be able to get a vaccine from their GP or pharmacy. If you are in this group, please wait until you are invited by your GP practice to come forward for your flu vaccine, unless you are in one of the above vulnerable groups.

How to get the vaccine

Eligible adults can get the free flu vaccine at their GP or pharmacist. The NHS will contact you directly if you are eligible and invite you to book an appointment. You can get the vaccine from your pharmacist by booking online at londonflu.co.uk or by walking in.

Frequently asked questions

Is the flu vaccination safe?

The flu vaccination is safe and effective and must be given annually. It cannot give you the flu. It does not protect you from COVID-19 or seasonal coughs and colds, but it does give protection against the strains of flu virus that will be circulating this year.

Adults usually receive the flu vaccination in injection form, and children usually receive a nasal spray.

When can I get the flu vaccination?

We expect that the flu vaccination will be available from autumn 2020 onwards. You will be invited to book a vaccination appointment at around this time, but please contact your GP practice if not. It’s important that you have your vaccination as soon as possible.

Where can I get the flu vaccination?

Many people will receive their flu vaccination at a GP surgery as usual. Others may go to a pharmacy or another location in their community. School-aged children will receive their vaccination from a trained health professional at school or in their community. Health professionals will also visit care homes to vaccinate residents on-site.

Is it safe to attend appointments at health clinics?

The NHS is doing everything it can to make sure that vaccinations are given in safe environments. All possible precautions will be taken to make sure you, and staff, are protected.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, do not attend your vaccination appointment but instead self-isolate and book a coronavirus test at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ or by calling 119. You can rebook your flu vaccination appointment at a later date.

How will I know if I have the flu or COVID-19?

The flu virus and COVID-19 have symptoms which overlap, such a high temperature or persistent cough. It may be difficult to tell which virus you have. For this reason, it’s really important that you have a flu vaccination if you are eligible, and that you continue to follow the guidance on self-isolation and testing at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ if you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19.

Where vaccines are available, it’s vital that we use them to help keep everyone safe. Look out for updates from your local GP or NHS team and book your vaccination as soon as they are available. Get the flu vaccination, stay well and protect the NHS.

More information can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/who-should-have-flu-vaccine/

GOV.UK also provide Easy Read guides to flu vaccination for people with a learning disability.