People who should have a flu jab
The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to people who are at risk. This is to ensure they are protected against catching flu and developing serious complications.
Over-65s and the flu jab:
You are eligible for the flu vaccine this year (2015-16) if you are aged 65 and over on March 31 2016 – that is, you were born on or before March 31 1951. So, if you are currently 64 but will be 65 on March 31 2016, you do qualify.
Pregnant women and the flu jab:
If you are pregnant, you are advised to have the injectable flu vaccine, regardless of the stage of pregnancy you have reached.
That is because there is strong evidence to suggest pregnant women have an increased risk of developing complications if they get flu.
If you are pregnant, you will benefit from the flu vaccine because:
- It reduces your chance of getting serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy
- It reduces your risk of having a miscarriage, or your baby being born prematurely or with a low birth weight because of the flu
- It will help protect your baby as they will continue to have some immunity to flu for the first few months of their life.
It is safe to have the flu vaccine at any stage of pregnancy from conception onwards. The vaccine does not carry any risks for you or your baby. Talk to your GP or midwife if you are unsure about the vaccination.
Read more about the flu jab in pregnancy.
Flu jab for people with medical conditions:
The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to anyone with a serious long-term health condition. That includes these types of illnesses:
- Chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma (which requires an inhaled or tablet steroid treatment, or has led to hospital admission in the past), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or bronchitis
- Chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease
- Problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- A weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medication such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
This list of conditions is not definitive. It is always an issue of clinical judgement.
Your GP can assess you individually to take into account the risk of flu exacerbating any underlying illness you may have, as well as your risk of serious illness from flu itself.
The vaccine should always be offered in such cases, even if you are not technically in one of the risk groups above.
If you live with someone who has a weakened immune system, you may also be advised to have a flu vaccine. Speak to your GP or pharmacist about this.
Flu vaccine for children:
Flu can be serious for young children, help protect them from flu with one simple nasal spray. It is free, fast and painless. If you have children ages two three or four, or in school years one and two, do not put off taking up their free flu vaccination.
Children in school years 1, 2 and 3 and all primary school children in former pilot areas, are likely to have the vaccination in school but in some areas this may be offered in other community health settings.
Flu jab for health and social care workers:
Outbreaks of flu can occur in health and social care settings, and, because flu is so contagious, staff, patients and residents are all at risk of infection.
If you are a front-line health and social care worker, you are eligible for an NHS flu jab to protect yourself, your colleagues and other members of the community.
It is your employer’s responsibility to arrange vaccination for you. So, if you are an NHS-employed front-line healthcare worker, the NHS will pay for your vaccination. If you are a social care worker, your employer – for example, your local authority – will pay for vaccination.
In the case of health and social care workers employed by private companies; those companies will arrange and pay for the vaccinations. The NHS has this advice on flu vaccination of health and social care workers (PDF, 131kb).
Flu jab for carers:
If you care for someone who is elderly or disabled, speak to your GP or pharmacist about having a flu jab along with the person you care for.
Read more about the flu jab for carers on the Carers UK website.
This NHS leaflet gives information about the flu vaccination 2015-16 aimed at carers of and people with a learning disability.