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Winter flu vaccination programme

The NHS winter flu vaccination programme provides vital protection to those eligible and their families over winter, keeping people from developing serious illnesses, and helping to minimise hospitalisations during busy winter months.

How to get the flu vaccine

Adults can book their flu vaccination through their GP practice or local pharmacy, and some people may be offered their vaccinations directly by a local NHS service. You can also call 119 free of charge to book.

If you’re pregnant, you should contact your midwife, GP surgery or local pharmacy to find out where you can get a flu vaccine.  In some areas, you can get a flu vaccine at an antenatal clinic. In others, you’ll need an appointment at a GP surgery or a pharmacy that offers the flu vaccine.

Children aged between two years and school age will be offered the flu vaccine at their GP surgery.

All children at primary school (reception to Year 6) and secondary school aged children in eligible groups (Year 7 to Year 11) will be offered the vaccine in school.

Children in eligible school groups (with certain long-term health conditions) will be either offered the vaccine in school or their GP surgery.

Children who are home-schooled or not in mainstream education (same ages as those offered in eligible groups at school) will be offered the vaccine at a community clinic.

For other eligible people, the NHS will let you know when you can get it.  Please wait to be invited.

Who is eligible for the flu vaccine?

In line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, those eligible for a flu vaccine this year include:

  • those aged 65 years and over (including those who will be 65 by 31 March 2024)
  • those aged 6 months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups (as defined by the Green Book, chapter 19 (Influenza))
  • pregnant women
  • all children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2023
  • school-aged children (from Reception to Year 11)
  • those in long-stay residential care homes
  • carers in receipt of carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person
  • close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
  • frontline workers in a social care setting without an employer led occupational health scheme including those working for a registered residential care or nursing home, registered domiciliary care providers, voluntary managed hospice providers and those that are employed by those who receive direct payments (personal budgets) or Personal Health budgets, such as Personal Assistants

Vaccinations during pregnancy

It’s recommended that all pregnant women have the flu vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy they’re at.  It’s free for pregnant women.

A flu jab will help protect both you and your baby.

There is good evidence that pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy.

Pregnancy changes how the body responds to infections such as flu. Having flu increases the chances of pregnant women and their babies needing intensive care.

One of the most common complications of flu is bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop in to pneumonia.

If you have flu while you’re pregnant, it could cause your baby to be born prematurely or have a low birthweight, and may even lead to stillbirth or death.


Children’s flu vaccination

The children’s flu vaccine is usually given as a quick and painless spray up the nose.

If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years and has a long-term health condition that makes them at higher risk from flu, they’ll be offered a flu vaccine injection instead of the nasal spray.

The nasal spray flu vaccine is free on the NHS for:

  • children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2023 (born between 1 September 2019 and 31 August 2021)
  • all primary school children (Reception to Year 6)
  • some secondary school aged children (Year 7 to Year 11)
  • children aged 2 to 17 years with certain long-term health conditions

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