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The flu vaccine

Catching the flu is miserable at the best of times. But for some people, the flu causes serious and sometimes life-threatening complications.

The flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS every year to those that are most at risk.

If you have been recommended the flu vaccine, you will receive a notification to book an appointment. You can also book an appointment by calling 03308082217.

For more information about the flu, when to speak to a healthcare professional and how to treat it at home - check our flu information page.

How our flu clinics are running this year


Due to COVID-19, we have put in place a number of measures to keep you safe before and during your appointment.

1. Before you arrive

    We are keeping appointments as swift as possible. Please read the FAQs and vaccine information below before your appointment. If you have any additional questions - do ask the clinician at the time of your vaccination.

    2. On arrival

    Where possible, our clinics will be operating a one-way system.

    Please wear a mask (unless exempt) and maintain social distancing wherever possible.

    There will be an administrator and a clinician working in each of the clinic rooms, to enable sufficient time for cleaning between patients.

    3. Your appointment

    Please be ready to receive the flu vaccine, with short sleeves/sleeve rolled up and upper arm exposed.

    Adults - only the person being vaccinated should enter the clinic, in order to allow for social distancing inside.

    Children - as few people as possible should come to the appointment, ideally only the carer and the child/children due the vaccine.

    Important flu vaccine information

    The vaccine you will be offered generally depends on your age.

    Age 6 months to 17 years

    The nasal flu vaccine (Fluenz Tetra)

    Most children aged 6 months to 17 years will be given the nasal flu vaccine. Children aged 6 months to 2 years that are high-risk will receive the injected vaccine. If a child over the age of 2 is in a high-risk group and this is the first time they have had the flu vaccine - they will need to have two nasal flu vaccines 4 weeks apart

    This vaccine is a spray that is sprayed up the nose.

    Common side effects are normally short-lived and include a runny or blocked nose, a headache, feeling a bit tired and loss of appetite. There is a very rare risk of severe allergic reaction, of 1 in 900,000.

    For more information on side effects and the nasal flu vaccine, please read the Fluenz Tetra nasal spray leaflet.

    Age 65 and over

    The Adjuvanted Trivalent Influenza Vaccine

    Adults aged 65 and over will receive the adjuvanted flu injection which protects against 3 strains of flu. The vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce its own protection against flu. It can take 2 or 3 weeks for your body to build this protection. None of the ingredients in the vaccine can by themselves cause flu.

    This vaccine is an injection, commonly given in the upper arm.

    Common side effects include a sore arm, mildly high temperature and slight muscle aches.

    For more information on side effects and the adjuvanted trivalent vaccine leaflet.

    At-risk adults aged 18-64

    The Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine

    Adults under the age of 65 will receive the quadrivalent flu injection which protects against 4 strains of flu. The vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce its own protection against flu. It can take 2 or 3 weeks for your body to build this protection. None of the ingredients in the vaccine can by themselves cause flu.

    This vaccine is an injection, commonly given in the upper arm.

    Common side effects include headaches, muscle aches, pain at the injection site and a fever.

    For more information on side effects and the quadrivalent flu vaccine leaflet.

    Who is eligible for a free NHS flu vaccine?

    People aged 65 and over

    Pregnant people

    • The vaccine is safe in pregnancy and comes highly recommended.
    • Catching the flu whilst pregnant can be dangerous for you and for your baby too. There is an increased risk of premature birth, low birth weight, still-birth and death.
    • Having the flu vaccine during pregnancy means some of the immunity will pass on to your baby. This protects them for a few months after birth.
    • You can have the vaccine at any point during your pregnancy.


    Children

    Children eligible for free NHS vaccination include those:

    • Aged 6 months to 17 years, with a long term health condition
    • Aged 2 and 3 on the 31st of August 2020

    Primary school children and year 7 children are also eligible. Arrangements for this are made by their school.

    Children aged 2-17 will usually be offered the flu vaccine nasal spray. For those children aged 6 months to 2 years that are eligible, the injected flu vaccine will be given.


    People with certain medical conditions

    If you have one of the following conditions, it is usually recommended that you have a flu vaccine:

    • Asthma - requiring an inhaled or tablet steroid treatment, or that has led to hospital admission in the past
    • COPD, emphysema or bronchitis
    • Heart disease e.g. heart failure
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Liver disease e.g. hepatitis
    • Neurological conditions e.g. multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease
    • Diabetes
    • Problems with your spleen e.g. spleen has been removed, sickle cell disease
    • A weakened immune system e.g. HIV, aids, on chemotherapy, taking steroids
    • Being seriously overweight - a BMI of 40 or above

    The flu vaccine may be given later in the year to people aged 50-64 that don’t have the above health conditions . More information on this will be available in the future.

    There are also other occasions where your GP will recommend the flu vaccine to be in your best interests.


    Carers

    If you receive a carer’s allowance or are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person, you are eligible for the flu vaccine.

    If you live with someone who is on the NHS COVID-19 shielded patient list, it is recommended that you have a flu vaccine.


    People living in care facilities

    People living in long-stay residential care homes, or other long-stay care facilities, are recommended to have the flu vaccine.

    Frontline health and social care workers

    Your employer will usually arrange for you to have the flu vaccine. Speak to your employer if you have any questions about this.

    Flu vaccine FAQ's

    How does the flu vaccine work?

    Flu is caused by the influenza virus, of which there are 4 types; A, B, C and D.

    Type A and B tend to be responsible for flu season. (Type C generally causes mild symptoms and type D mostly affects cattle and not humans.)

    Both type A and type B influenza viruses are then further subdivided into different strains. The genetic make-up of each strain is slightly different.

    Every year, the World Health Organisation looks at which influenza strains are around. They then make a prediction about what strains are likely to be involved in the upcoming flu season. A vaccine is then manufactured to protect against 3 or 4 of those strains.

    When should I have the flu vaccine?

    It is best to get the vaccine before flu season starts. Flu season typically begins in October or November. It continues through until February or March.

    Our GP at Hand flu clinic will start mid September You will receive a notification from us inviting you to book an appointment.

    You can also have your free flu vaccine at a local pharmacy.

    If early autumn has flown by, it is still a good idea to have it done as it will offer you protection for the rest of the season.

    Can the vaccine give me the flu?

    No. Flu vaccines are created in such a way that they don't give you the flu.

    It takes about 2 weeks for your body to properly respond to the flu vaccine. If you are exposed to the flu at some point within those 2 weeks, you might still get the flu. This is often the reason why people think the flu vaccine has given them the flu.

    Does the flu vaccine stop me from catching the flu completely?

    Sadly not. It is hard to predict which strain will cause this season’s flu, so the vaccine isn’t always a perfect fit. Fortunately, there is often overlap between the different virus strains. So your flu symptoms will likely be milder if you’ve had the flu vaccine.