For the majority of people the flu is an unpleasant inconvenience. For those most vulnerable in our society, it can be far more serious.
Every winter the NHS flu vaccination programme offers vital protection to those least able to fight the infection. Despite this, about 11,000 people die from seasonal flu each year and many more are hospitalised.
This winter, with Covid-19 cases again rising, it's more important than ever that young children, pregnant women, older people and those with underlying health conditions are protected from flu.
Who's entitled to a vaccine this year?
Many more people in Harrow are entitled to a vaccination this year. Year 7 children (children born between 01/09/2008 - 31/08/2009), those on the Covid shielding list and those they live with, are among the new groups of people who will be encouraged to vaccinate. See the full eligibility list.
How do I get my vaccination?
If you belong to one of the groups mentioned above, you should book an appointment with your GP or pharmacist to get your free vaccination. Your doctor may have already been in touch. Don’t delay – make your appointment straight away to get the best possible protection. The vaccine is also offered through some maternity services.
Will my child have to be injected?
No. Most children will be offered a nasal spray instead. It’s quick and painless.
Is it safe?
Yes, vaccines are very safe. The flu vaccine can lead to some mild side-effects, such as a blocked nose, headache or tiredness. These will pass quickly and for many people will not appear at all.
Vaccine is developed from the virus it treats. The virus is present but in a very weakened form. You cannot get flu from the flu vaccine.
All London GPs have adapted their delivery of vaccinations to ensure that they are Covid secure, with social distancing, PPE and infection control measures all in place.
Is it effective?
Vaccination is the best defence against the flu. Viruses evolve very quickly and flu comes in many different strains. The vaccine will be most effective if it closely matches the flu most commonly in circulation during the winter.
I had a flu vaccination last year – do I need it again this year?
The strain of flu most commonly in circulation changes each year, so your vaccine from last year won’t offer you protection against this year’s flu.
Will the vaccine protect me against Covid-19?
No, the flu vaccine is only designed to protect against flu. There is not yet a vaccine available for Covid-19.
There is an increased risk, especially for vulnerable people, with Covid-19 and seasonal flu circulating at the same time – that’s why the flu vaccine is so important this year.