Flu Jab: Influenza (flu) prevention | Age 51Թapp


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Influenza (flu) prevention

Getting your flu vaccination is a very important way to help protect your health during the winter – and if you're 65 or over you can get it for free.

Coronavirus booster jabs

It's important to get your coronavirus booster jab as well as your flu jab. Find out whether you're eligible and how to book.

What is the flu?

The flu is an illness that affects the respiratory system, including the nose, throat and lungs. It's caused by the influenza virus and it's very contagious.

It's in season from October through to March, and you can still catch it even if the weather's mild.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Symptoms of the flu can include:

  • a fever
  • a dry cough
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • feeling sick and being sick
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling very tired.

How can I treat the flu?

As the flu is a virus, antibiotics won’t help with flu symptoms or recovery.

To help you get better you should drink plenty of water, rest as much as possible and try to keep warm. Taking ibuprofen and paracetamol can help ease some of the symptoms – but always remember to check if you're able to take certain medications.

How can I stop myself catching the flu?

Influenza is a very infectious virus. To reduce the risk of spreading it make sure you wash your hands often, use tissues whenever you cough or sneeze and throw away used tissues as quickly as possible.

There's a vaccine available for those who are at a higher risk of the flu.

Even if it's a mild winter, flu is in season, so it's important to have an annual free flu jab if you're eligible. This helps protect you and any person you care for.

Who can get the free flu jab?

You can get a free flu jab from your GP or pharmacist if any of the below apply:

  • you're aged 65 or over
  • you live in residential care or another long-stay care facility
  • you receive Carer's Allowance 
  • you provide care for an older or disabled person
  • you live in the same household as someone who is immunocompromised
  • you're under 65 and have certain health conditions – a full list can be found on the .
  • you're pregnant.

If you're a frontline worker in the NHS, the NHS will pay for your vaccination.

If you work in social care, your employer should organise and pay for your vaccine. If your employer doesn't offer the vaccine and you work for either a registered residential care or nursing home, a registered home care organisation or a hospice, you should be able to have a free vaccine at your GP surgery or pharmacy.

You should be able to get a free flu jab from your GP or pharmacist if you provide health or social care through Direct Payments (personal budgets) or Personal Health Budgets (such as Personal Assistants) or both. Speak to your GP or pharmacist if you think you could be eligible.

When should I have the flu jab?

For 2024, most surgeries and pharmacies will start to offer the jab from the from 3 October. This is a bit later than in previous years. 

It takes up to 14 days for the vaccine to take effect, so it's better to have it as early as possible. Care home residents and those most at risk getting will typically be offered their jabs first.

However, the flu season lasts until the end of March, so it's well worth protecting yourself up until then.

Where can I get my flu jab?

You can have your flu jab at your GP surgery or a local pharmacy offering the service. It's up to you where you go.

Do I need to get my coronavirus booster and my flu jab?

If you've been invited to get your coronavirus booster jab, it's important to get it as well as your flu jab if you're eligible. Getting both is important as they protect you against different viruses and can help you avoid becoming seriously ill during winter. 

All those eligible for an autumn booster dose should be offered one at least 3 months after their previous coronavirus vaccination.

While you may be contacted about your flu jab, you can also book it at any time and you may choose to book it at your local pharmacy.

You may be offered both the flu jab and the coronavirus booster vaccination at the same time. This is perfectly safe and can be more convenient for you.  

If you have any questions about either vaccine you should speak to your GP or pharmacist. 

Find out more about coronavirus booster jabs

We’ve answered some more frequently asked questions

I had a seasonal flu jab last year. Do I need one this year?

Flu is a highly infectious disease caused by viruses that are always changing.

You need a flu jab every year because a new vaccine is produced to target those viruses most likely to be in circulation during the coming winter.

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Do I need the pneumo jab?

The ‘pneumo’ (or pneumococcal) jab is a one-off jab that helps protect you against pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis.

Ask your GP about it if you’re aged 65 and over and haven’t had one.

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Do I need the shingles jab?

The shingles jab is a one-off jab that helps reduce your risk of getting shingles or mean you get milder symptoms if you do get it.

Free shingles vaccinations are available for:

  • people who turned 65 on or after 1 September 2023
  • people aged 70-79 (if you turned 65 before 1 September 2023, you have to wait until you turn 70 to be eligible for the vaccine)
  • people who have a severely weakened immune system aged 50 and over.

If you're aged 70-79 and haven't been offered a shingles vaccination yet, speak to a healthcare professional about arranging your vaccination soon.

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What is the RSV vaccination?

The NHS has introduced a new vaccination to help protect against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV is a common respiratory virus that can cause serious lung infections. 

You're eligible for the vaccine if you'll be 75 years old on or after 1 September 2024. You remain eligible until you're 80th birthday. 

Those already 75 years old can get their vaccine from 1 September 2024. Those turning 75 years old will be offered it on or after their 75th birthday. 


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How can I reduce my risk of catching the flu?

If you have had the flu jab, you can still catch flu, but if you do catch it, you'll probably have milder symptoms than if you haven’t been vaccinated.

You can take these precautions to reduce your risk of catching flu:

  • Have the flu vaccination.
  • Eat well, stay active and drink plenty of warm drinks in the winter months.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water, particularly after using the toilet, before and after leaving the house, doing the gardening, petting animals and before eating.

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How will my body react to the flu jab?

After the flu jab some people may experience a mild fever, muscle ache and sore arm. These side effects are generally nothing to worry about and will go away after a few days.

For a vast majority of people, the flu vaccine is safe and is the most effective way to protect yourself against the flu. If you are in any doubt, discuss your concerns with your doctor to help you reach an informed decision.

Serious reactions to the jab are very rare and usually so immediate, that, in the event of an allergic reaction, your doctor or pharmacist is likely to be on hand to help you.

If you are still worried you can have a look at , and read about  before getting the jab.

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Can the flu jab make me ill?

The flu vaccine can take up to two weeks to become fully effective, so during this period it is still possible to catch the flu.

It is also possible to catch the flu before you get the jab, but not be aware of it. It can make you think that the flu jab has given you the flu, when in fact you may have already been carrying the virus. The injected flu vaccine given to older adults cannot give you flu as it does not contain live viruses.

The flu vaccine only protects against flu, not colds and other illnesses which may have similar symptoms. Over the last few months, we have all become aware of the importance of taking precautions such as washing our hands regularly, to keep ourselves safe and well, and that is really important during the winter.

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Can I have the flu jab while I'm taking antibiotics?

As long as you’re feeling well and don’t have a high temperature you can have the flu vaccine while you’re taking antibiotics.

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How do vaccines work?

When a virus or bacteria, such as the flu, enters our body, our immune system detects it, fights it, and produces antibodies that recognise it and remember it.

The antibodies we produce are specific to each new virus or bacteria.

The flu vaccine helps our immune system to respond to a strain of flu as if it remembers it. In this way, the virus is killed before the infection gets a chance to take hold, and before we start to feel unwell. This is because the vaccination stimulates the natural immunity, we can get from having had a disease. We are then immune to that flu strain.

Our resident epidemiological expert Dr Elizabeth Webb explains how vaccines work and how they were developed in the hunt for the coronavirus vaccine.

There is more information on how the flu vaccine works on the .

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Does the flu jab contain pork or egg?

There are different flu vaccines for different groups of people

The nasal vaccine for children does contain porcine gelatine but if you do not eat pork there may be other options available. Speak to your GP and see the .

Flu vaccines that are injected do not usually contain pork.

Flu vaccines are made by growing the flu virus in egg or mammalian cells, so talk to your GP if you have an egg allergy.

If you are concerned about the ingredients of the flu vaccine or how it is made, speak to your GP or pharmacist and they can advise.

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Last updated: Jul 12 2024

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