Why you should have the annual flu vaccine
With COVID-19 still in circulation, all adults with long-term medical conditions should not delay having their flu vaccine.
The flu vaccine is offered free of charge to people considered at risk. This is to help protect the most vulnerable against catching flu and developing serious complications.
If you have a long-term medical condition, you should have the annual flu vaccine every year.
This is because:
- catching flu could make your condition worse
- you are more likely to have a bad case of flu
- you may develop a serious complication and need a stay in hospital
Who should have the vaccine
We recommend you have the vaccine if you have:
- chronic respiratory disease or asthma that requires continuous or repeated use of inhaled or systemic steroids eg chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or if you’ve been admitted to hospital for treatment of your condition
- asthma that requires continuous or repeated use of inhaled or systemic steroids
- chronic heart disease eg heart failure
- chronic kidney disease eg kidney failure
- chronic liver disease eg chronic hepatitis
- chronic neurological disease eg Parkinson’s disease or stroke
- diabetes type 1 or type 2 requiring insulin or oral hypoglycaemic drugs or diet-controlled
- a suppressed immune system due to disease or treatment like chemotherapy
- Asplenia or spleen dysfunction
- a BMI of more than 40
All pregnant women are recommended to have the flu vaccine to protect them and their baby during the winter.
Annual flu vaccine for pregnant women
About the flu vaccine and who it's for
Flu on NHS Choices website
Where to get the vaccine
You can have the vaccine at your GP surgery or at a local pharmacy.
If you're pregnant, the vaccine is free at your GP surgery or at a local pharmacy.
Later in the year, the flu vaccine will be offered free to 50 to 64 year olds, following the prioritisation of other eligible groups and subject to vaccine supply.
If you're not in one of the groups outlined above, you can still have flu vaccine privately. Ask your GP surgery or local pharmacy how much this will cost you.
The vaccine can’t give you flu. The vaccine will stimulate your immune system to produce antibodies which help protect you against flu.
The flu vaccine is safe and has been given to millions of people across the world.
Mild side effects can include:
- a sore arm at the site of the injection
- occasionally a slight temperature
- occasionally aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards