What is seasonal (winter) flu, and what is a flu vaccine?
The flu is an illness caused by a virus. It can make you feel very poorly and you may have symptoms such as a fever, aching body, sore throat, cough, runny nose, being sick and having diarrhoea.
If you are healthy, you will usually recover within a week or two.
For some vulnerable people, such as children, elderly people, pregnant women, or those with certain medical conditions, getting flu can be more dangerous and in some cases, may even lead to death.
It is more common to get flu in the winter, so every year in the autumn time, people who are vulnerable are offered the choice to have a flu vaccination (sometimes called a flu jab). This can be an injection or a nasal spray.
Although it will not stop all flu viruses and the level of protection may vary, having the vaccination can still help to prevent you from getting the flu.
It can also make your symptoms not as bad if you do get the flu, and help you recover quicker.
Who is eligible for the seasonal flu vaccination?
This year, because of COVID-19, more people will be offered the flu vaccine than usual.
People who are eligible include:
- Those aged 65 and over
- Those with certain medical conditions or who were in the shielding category
- People living with someone who is shielding
- Pregnant women
- Children aged 2 – up those in year 7 (secondary school)
- Frontline health or social care workers
Later in the year, the flu vaccine may also be given to people aged 50 to 64.
How do I get a flu vaccination?
If you want to book in to get the flu vaccination, you should contact either your GP surgery, a local pharmacy offering the service, or your midwifery service if you are pregnant.
Some community pharmacies now offer flu vaccination to adults at risk from flu.
If you are unsure if you are eligible for the vaccine, you should get in touch with your GP and they will be able to tell you.
I am not eligible for the vaccine but I would like it. What should I do?
If you are not eligible for the vaccine, you can still choose to have it, however you will need to pay for it.
You can buy it at some stores that offer pharmacy services including:
The price varies between £8-20.