Don’t delay having your flu vaccination – it’s free because you need it
Help us help you stay well this winter by getting your free flu vaccination if you are eligible.
Flu is a highly infectious virus that occurs every year, usually in winter. Symptoms include a high temperature, body aches and fatigue.
Anyone can catch flu, but for some people it can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses.
In the worst cases, flu can result in hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death – with an average 8,000 deaths occurring annually due to flu-related complications.
The flu vaccination is the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus, that's why it's free for the eligible groups who really need it.
Remember, you need to have the flu vaccination every year, so don't assume you are protected because you had it last year.
The following groups are at particular risk from flu and need the free vaccination.
People with existing medical conditions
Flu on top of existing health conditions can increase your chance of developing serious complications.
People are at higher risk if they have things like: heart problems, breathing difficulties, bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes, kidney disease and liver disease, or a long-term nerve condition like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy.
You're also at greater risk if you have a problem with your spleen (or have had it removed), have suffered a stroke or are seriously overweight.
This list isn't definitive. Your GP can assess you to take into account the risk of flu making any underlying illness you may have worse, as well as your risk of serious illness from flu itself.
Adults aged 65 and over
People of this age are more vulnerable and may suffer more than others if catching flu.
This year, a more effective vaccine is being given to those aged 65 and over, which is proven to give better protection against flu. The new vaccine could reduce GP consultations by 30,000, hospitalisations by over 2,000 and prevent over 700 hospital deaths from flu in England
Flu can be particularly nasty for children, who tend to be super-spreaders and can infect older, more vulnerable family members.
The vaccine helps protect children from flu and reduce the chance of it spreading to others.
For most children, the flu vaccine is not usually an injection, just a quick and easy nasal spray.
Children aged 2 and 3 receive the vaccine through their GP and children in reception and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, receive it in school. If you have a child who is eligible, make sure you sign the consent form allowing them to have the flu vaccine at school.
Pregnancy naturally weakens the body's immune system and, as a result, flu can cause serious complications for you and your baby. Pregnant women who get flu may be less able to fight off infections, increasing the risk of becoming ill.
The flu jab is the safest way to protect you and your baby against flu, no matter how many months pregnant you are or however fit and healthy you feel.
If you're eligible, get your free flu vaccination from your GP practice, pharmacy or midwifery service (for pregnant women) as soon as possible to protect you before any outbreaks of flu – it's free because you need it.
The vaccine is also available for carers and frontline health and social care workers.
Visit www.nhs.uk/fluvaccine for more information.
Photo shows NHS Southwark CCG Chair, Dr Jonty Heaversedge, receiving his flu vaccination from Dr Noel Baxter, Clinical Director for Quality and Service Improvement