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 free vaccine this year?
- Children aged 2 to 11
- Anyone over the age of 50
- People with an underlying health condition, including diabetes and heart disease
- Pregnant women
- Carers of older or disabled people
- Families on the Covid shielding 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.
How will my child’s vaccine be given?
Many children are offered a nasal spray vaccine. This option won’t be right for all families, because it contains pork gelatine and also traces of egg.
Your child can have a vaccine free from animal products. This is known as the attenuated vaccine and is delivered in the form of an injection.
If your child is two or three-years-old, they should be vaccinated by a GP or pharmacist. Parents of older children up to the age of 11 can book an appointment at a catch-up clinic.
The clinic is open weekdays 3.30 to 5pm until 21 December. Some Saturday slots are also available. The clinic does not offer a walk-in service – places can be booked by calling 020 8102 6333 or 07557 15810 or by emailing [email protected]. This service is based at the Alexandra Avenue Health and Social Care Centre.
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 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.
Protecting your child against flu
Flu vaccination leaflets and posters - Information from the NHS about vaccinating your child this winter. This is available in English and other languages including Arabic, Guajarati, Romanian and Tamil
Why vaccination is vital
The flu vaccaination: who should have it and why - Find out who should have the flu vaccination and why. This information provided by the NHS is available in English and other languages incluiding Arabic, Guajarati, Romanian and Tamil.