If you're at greater risk from Covid-19 and flu it's important to get the extra protection of vaccination in winter.
For most people, flu is unpleasant, but for some it can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Covid-19 is also still making people very ill every day.
Both vaccines are safe and effective and are the best protection from these viruses. It's important to get both vaccines if you're invited.
You need to have the flu vaccine every year because the viruses that cause flu change every year.
Your immunity from the Covid-19 vaccine also reduces over time. This is why those at greater risk are being invited to get a booster.
The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn before flu starts spreading. But you can get the vaccine later.
If you're eligible it's important to get these vaccinations ahead of winter when viruses circulate most and can cause the most harm.
You're eligible for a free flu vaccine if:
- you're aged 65 or over (including if you will be 65 by 31 March 2024)
- you're pregnant
- you have certain long-term health conditions
- you're in long-stay residential care
- you 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
- you live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system
- you're a frontline health or social care worker
Children aged 2 or 3 years and school aged children (reception to year 11 ) will be offered a free vaccination. Two- and three-year-olds are vaccinated at their GP surgery. Children in schools will be offered a vaccination there by special immunisation teams and parents will be asked to consent before they go. There are Pharmacies can vaccinate adults but not children.
If you are eligible, you can have your free flu vaccination at your GP surgery or local pharmacy.
Having a flu jab will help to protect you and your baby. Pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, especially in the later stages of pregnancy, which could cause serious illness in the mother and affect the baby.
It’s safe to have the vaccination at any stage of pregnancy and it will also pass some protection to the baby which will last for the first few months of their lives.
For more information on the flu jab in pregnancy, visit the NHS webpage and watch the below video animation.
This animation was developed by Dr Jo Parsons as part of a PhD at Coventry University, working in partnership with Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council.
2 and 3-year-old children are entitled to the free flu nasal spray. Contact your local GP to find out more.
This year the spray is also being offered to children in school from reception to year eleven.
To find out more about the nasal spray for children, including advice for parents and information for faith groups, visit the NHS children's flu vaccine page.
The vaccine does contain small traces of pork gelatine. If this is not suitable you can request an injectable vaccine instead.
When you’re caring for a partner, relative or friend who couldn’t get by without your help, keeping yourself well is really important.
That's why unpaid carers are offered a free NHS flu jab if they’re the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare would be at risk if they were ill. This includes people who receive Carers Allowance.
If you are the parent or carer of someone with a learning disability there’s a short film about why it’s important to get them vaccinated, where you can get vaccinated and reasonable adjustments.
You may be able to get a seasonal Covid-19 vaccine in autumn 2023 if you’re at increased risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19. For example, this may be due to a health condition or your age.
Those who are eligible include:
- Residents in a care home for older adults
- All adults aged 65 years and over
- Anyone aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group
- Frontline health and social care workers
- People aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
- Carers aged 16 to 64 years and staff working in care homes for older adults.
The NHS will contact you if your NHS record suggests you may be eligible.
When available, there will be different ways you can get a Covid-19 seasonal vaccine. There is more information through the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire NHS website.
The pneumococcal vaccine helps protect against serious illnesses like pneumonia and meningitis. It's recommended for people at higher risk of these illnesses, such as babies and adults aged 65 and over.
Your GP will contact you if you or your child are eligible for the pneumococcal vaccination and will be able to book or rearrange an appointment for you.
It is safe to have the vaccination at the same time as other vaccines like the flu vaccine.
There is more information on the NHS website: Pneumococcal vaccine - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Get the jab
If you fall into one of the at-risk categories, you can get the flu jab for free on the NHS from your local GP or community pharmacy (who can vaccinate adults but not children).
High street chemists and most of the leading supermarkets also offer the vaccination to any adult at varying costs.
The flu virus changes every year which means the flu (and the vaccine) may be different from last year. It is important for those who are eligible for the flu vaccine to have it every year. By getting the flu jab you will be protecting yourself, your friends and family and the NHS. This will be critical to help prevent people becoming ill while Covid-19 is still in circulation.
For information about the flu vaccination in British Sign Language please watch this video:
For more information on flu vaccinations and staying well this winter, visit the NHS Stay Well webpages.