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Physical – Flu Jabs

14 October 2022

Flu Jabs

Flu jabs are safe and effective.  They’re offered every year through the NHS to help protect people at risk of getting seriously ill from flu.

The best time to have a flu jab is in the autumn or early winter before the flu starts spreading.

Flu jabs are important because:

  • while flu is unpleasant for most people, it can be dangerous and even life threatening for some people, particularly those with certain health conditions
  • 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, research shows you’re more likely to be seriously ill

Who can have the flu jab?

The flu jab is given free on the NHS to adults who:

  • are 65 and over (including those who will be 65 by 31 March 2023)
  • 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 a severe infection due to a weakened immune system, such as someone living with HIV, someone who has had a transplant, or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
  • are frontline health workers
  • are social care workers who cannot get the jab through an occupational health scheme at work

Starting from mid-October, people aged 50 years old or over (including those who will be 50 years old by 31 March 2023) can have a free NHS flu jab.  This is so at-risk groups can be offered vaccination first.

If you’re in this age group and have a long-term health condition that puts you at risk from flu, you do not have to wait until mid-October.

Where to get the flu jab

You can have the NHS flu jab at:

  • your GP surgery
  • a pharmacy offering the service – if you’re aged 18 or over
  • some maternity services if you’re pregnant

Sometimes, you might be offered the flu jab at a hospital appointment.  If you have a flu jab at any NHS service except your GP surgery, you do not have to tell the surgery to update your records.  This will be done for you.  If you’ve been given a flu jab privately, or through an occupational health scheme, you can tell your GP surgery if you would like it added to your NHS record.

How to book your appointment

If you’re eligible for a free flu jab, you can book an appointment at your GP surgery or a pharmacy that offers it on the NHS.

You may also receive an invitation to get vaccinated, but you do not have to wait for this before booking an appointment.

Everyone who is eligible for the free flu jab will be able to get it.

GP surgeries and pharmacies get the flu jab in batches throughout the flu season. If you cannot get an appointment straight away, ask if you can book one for when more jabs are available.

Who should not have the flu jab

Most adults can have the flu jab, but you should avoid it if you have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu jab in the past.

You may be at risk of an allergic reaction to the flu jab injection if you have an egg allergy. This is because some flu jabs are made using eggs.  Ask a GP or pharmacist for a low-egg or egg-free jab.

If you’re ill with a high temperature, it’s best to wait until you’re better before having the flu jab.

What if I’m not entitled to a free flu jab?

You can still have a flu jab privately and many chemists and supermarkets offer jabs at a very low cost, here’s just a few examples:

How much will it cost me?

Many companies now offer wellbeing services through a cash plan, and you can claim the cost of the flu jab back directly into your bank account via a simple app, just by taking a picture of the receipt.  Also, with NHS prescriptions now costing £9.35 per item, you can claim for these too!