Seasonal Flu Vaccinations

This guide explains how you can help protect yourself and your children against flu over the Winter period. It also explains why it is very important that people who are at increased risk from flu have their free vaccination every year.

Flu isn’t just a heavy cold

Flu occurs every year, usually in the Winter, which is why it can be known as seasonal flu. It’s a highly infectious disease with symptoms than come on very quickly.

Colds are much less serious and usually begin gradually with a stuffy or runny nose and a sore throat.

The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness. Most health individuals usually recover within 2 to 7 days. But for some, the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.

The causes of flu

Flu is caused by influenza viruses that infect the windpipe and lungs. And because it’s caused by viruses and not bacteria, antibiotics won’t treat it. However, if there are complications from getting flu, antibiotics may be needed.

How you catch flu

When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they spread the flu virus in tiny droplets of saliva over a wide area. These droplets can then be breathed in by other people or they can be picked up by touching surfaces where the droplets have landed.

You can prevent the spread of the virus by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and you should wash your hands frequently or use hand gels to reduce the risk of picking up the virus.

But the best way to avoid catching and spreading flu is by having the vaccination before the flu season starts.

Who can have the flu vaccine?

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

Adults’ injection is given to:

  • are 65 and over (including those who will 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 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

The children’s nasal spray flu vaccine is given to:

  • children aged 2 or 3 on 31 August 2023 (born between 1 September 2019 and 31 August 2021)
  • all primary school children (Reception to Year 6)
  • some secondary school children (Year 7 to Year 11)
  • children aged 2 to 17 with certain long-term health conditions
  • Babies and children aged 6 months to 2 years with certain health conditions will be offered a flu vaccine injection instead of the nasal spray.
  • 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.

This is because the nasal spray is not licensed for children under 2 years.

The nasal spray vaccine offers the best protection for children aged 2 to 17 years. They will be offered the flu vaccine injection if the nasal spray vaccine is not suitable for them.

We at (Practice Name) are doing everything we can to help protect us all, and the NHS, this winter. Usually as autumn approaches, viruses start to spread, causing increasing illness. The addition of Covid-19 may cause great pressure on the NHS this winter.

We know children are both “silent super spreaders” of flu to other people, and at high risk & very vulnerable themselves. Flu can be severe and sadly sometimes life-threatening.

We are strongly encouraging parents of all children aged two or three years old to get them protected by getting them vaccinated against flu. This will also help protect your family and the NHS.

The vaccine is given by spraying a very small amount of fluid into each nostril – it’s easily administered and painless. There is no injection involved.

It is a very safe vaccine – the most common side effect, in about one in ten children, is a runny nose coming on a day or two after vaccination and lasting for a couple of days.

The vaccine doesn’t stop cold viruses but is very effective at preventing influenza virus infections.

Further information about immunisations against infectious disease from GOV.UK

If you are in these group’s we will be contacting you by text (or by letter if we don’t have a mobile number for you) to invite you to book a timed slot for your vaccination.

NHS UK FLU Information