Winter vaccination

Influenza (flu) vaccination

Get protected from flu this winter

The flu is an unpleasant illness caused by the influenza virus infecting the respiratory system, including your nose, throat and lungs. Flu will often get better on its own, but it can make some people seriously ill and can be life-threatening. In a bad flu year, on average around 30,000 people in the UK die from flu and pneumonia.

The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It’s offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of getting seriously ill from flu. More people than ever are entitled to a free flu vaccine this year – this includes all school-aged children, and everyone aged 65 and over.

Those eligible to receive both the COVID-19 booster vaccine and the flu vaccine should do so to protect themselves and others in the community.

You can have the NHS flu vaccine at:

  • your GP surgery
  • a pharmacy offering the service
  • your midwifery service if you’re pregnant
  • a hospital appointment. 

Flu vaccination is important because:

  • more people are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • if you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, you're more likely to be seriously ill
  • getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 will provide protection for you and those around you from both these serious illnesses

Who can get the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to people who:

  • are 65 and over (including those who’ll be 65 by 31 March 2024)
  • have certain health conditions
  • are pregnant
  • are in long-stay residential care
  • receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • frontline health or social care workers

Getting your flu vaccination

Eligible people can book an appointment for their flu jab at their GP practice or local pharmacy.

Pregnant women should ask for their free flu jab at their local maternity service.

Find a pharmacy that offers the NHS flu vaccine (external link)

Pre-school children should get their flu vaccine from their GP. All school-aged children (reception to year 11) will be offered their flu vaccine at school. Please ensure that you look out for and complete a consent form. 

If for any reason your child missed out on their flu vaccination at school. Vaccination UK, who run the schools' vaccination programme in Haringey, is running regular vaccination catch-up clinics. For details of forthcoming vaccination catch-up clinics email haringey@v-uk.co.uk or call 020 8017 7925.

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Flu vaccine for children

Flu vaccinations in primary schools will be happening soon. Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent highly infectious diseases such as the flu.Vaccination UK provides vaccinations in schools and community venues. See their website for details and list of catch up clinics in the community

The nasal spray vaccine contains small amounts of weakened flu viruses. They do not cause flu in children, but will help children to build up immunity to flu in a similar way as a natural infection (but without the symptoms).

As the main flu viruses can change each year, a new nasal spray vaccine has to be given each year.

Take a look at the Flu information for children, parents and carers (PDF, 317KB) to learn more about nasal flu vaccinations. This includes questions like:

  • What is flu?
  • How do you get flu?
  • How does the vaccine work?
  • What will happen on the day? 

The vaccine is given as a spray squirted up each nostril. The nasal spray flu vaccine gives children the best protection against flu. It will take around 2 weeks for the flu vaccine to work.

Videos

Take a look at the NHS Flu Vaccinations for Children video (external link) on YouTube.

The video is also available in other community languages:

It's not too late - protect your child against flu this winter. This is a school-based programme. To contact your local school team, go to our website www.schoolvaccination.uk

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Further advice and resources

For further information and to book your free flu jab, please contact your local GP, midwife services or practice nurse today. 

For more information on the flu vaccine visit:

Read our Childhood Vaccination Information Leaflet (English) (PDF, 270KB) for more information about the safety of routine vaccinations for children.

This is also available in Bulgarian, Polish, Romanian and Turkish:

Visit our vaccination and immunisation webpage for information about specific diseases and recommended immunisation schedule.

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Page last updated:

March 20, 2024