Fight flu this winter
Flu immunisation - helping to protect people every winter
Flu occurs every year, usually in the winter. It is highly infectious. Most people have an unpleasant self-limiting illness; however, some people are more seriously affected. Certain people are more at risk if they get the flu including the elderly, children and adults with an underlying health condition and pregnant women.
The flu vaccination is the best protection we have against the flu but it takes a couple of weeks for your immune system to give you optimum protection. Therefore, it is recommended to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible.
This year, it is more important than ever to get the flu vaccination, as both flu and Coronavirus (COVID-19) may be circulating, and people who get infected with the flu and COVID-19 at the same time are more likely to be seriously ill. Additionally, more people are likely to get flu this winter due to fewer people building up a natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are over 50, you are eligible for a free flu vaccine and a COVID-19 booster.
This year, all children aged 2 to 15 will be offered the flu vaccination. For most children, the vaccine will be given as a spray in each nostril, this is a very quick and painless procedure. If the nasal spray vaccine is not suitable, your child may be able to have an injected vaccine instead. See the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust website for more information about the school vaccination programme.
The following people are recommended to have the flu vaccine:
- Everyone aged 50 and over.
- Those aged 6 months to under 50 years who have a medical condition (including heart or lung disease, diabetes, a stroke or are seriously overweight (BMI of 40 and above).
- All pregnant women, at any stage of pregnancy.
- All children aged 2 to 15 (but not 16 years or older) on 31 August 2021.
- Everyone living in a residential or nursing home.
- Everyone who cares for an older or disabled person.
- Household contacts of anyone who is immunocompromised.
- All frontline health and social workers.
For more information, please refer to the Flu vaccination leaflet on the UK Government website (available in a number of languages) or visit the NHS website; or speak to your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist. Easy-read guides are available on the UK Government website.
If you are not eligible for a free vaccine then some pharmacies are offering a flu vaccine at a small charge.
Frequently asked questions
- Will I get any side effects?
Side effects of the nasal vaccine may commonly include a runny or blocked nose, headache, tiredness and some loss of appetite.
Those having the injected vaccine may get a sore arm at the site of the injection, a low grade fever and aching muscles for a day or two after the vaccination. Serious side effects with either vaccine are uncommon.
- I had the flu vaccination last year. Do I need another one this year?
Yes; the flu vaccine for each winter helps provide protection against the strains of flu that are likely to be present and may be different from those circulating last year. For this reason we strongly recommend that even if you were vaccinated last year, you should be vaccinated again this year. In addition protection from the flu vaccine may only last about six months so you should have the flu vaccine each flu season.
- I am pregnant. Do I need a flu vaccination this year?
Yes. All pregnant women should have the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their babies. The flu vaccine can be given safely at any stage of pregnancy, from conception onwards.
Pregnant women benefit from the flu vaccine because it will:
- Reduce their risk of serious complications such as pneumonia particularly in the later stages of pregnancy.
- Reduce the risk of miscarriage or having a baby born too soon or with a low birth weight.
- Help protect their baby who will continue to have some immunity to flu during the first few months of its life.
- Reduce the chance of the mother passing infection to her new baby.
- Do I need the flu vaccine if I had the COVID-19 vaccine?
It’s important to have the flu vaccine and the coronavirus vaccine to be protected against both viruses.
If you are offered both a COVID-19 booster vaccine and the flu vaccine, it's safe to have them at the same time. You can also have them on different days if you need to.