The flu vaccination is available every year on the NHS to help protect adults and children at risk of flu and its complications.

The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, from the beginning of October to end of November, but don’t worry if you’ve missed it, you can have the vaccine later in winter. Ask your GP or pharmacist for more information.

You can have your NHS flu vaccine at:

• your GP surgery
• a local pharmacy offering the service
• your midwifery service if they offer it for pregnant women

Some community pharmacies now offer flu vaccination to adults (but not children) at risk of flu including pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, people with long-term health conditions and carers.

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

Read more about who shouldn’t have the flu vaccine.

The flu vaccine is the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus that can cause unpleasant illness in children and severe illness and death among at-risk groups, including older people, pregnant women and those with an underlying medical health condition.

Studies have shown that the flu vaccine will help prevent you getting the flu. It won’t stop all flu viruses and the level of protection may vary, so it’s not a 100% guarantee that you’ll be flu-free, but if you do get flu after vaccination it’s likely to be milder and shorter-lived than it would otherwise have been.

Myth busting:

  1. You can catch the flu from the vaccine – MYTH

People assume that because they got sick after getting the vaccine, the flu vaccine caused their illness. This is not true. The flu vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that can’t transmit infection. People who get sick after receiving a flu vaccination were going to get sick anyway.

2. Healthy people don’t need to be vaccinated – MYTH

While it’s especially important for people who have a chronic illness to get the flu jab, everyone can benefit from being vaccinated.

3. The flu is just a bad cold – MYTH

Flu (Influenza) may cause bad cold symptoms, like sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, hoarseness, and cough, but thousands of people die each year from flu, this most commonly happens with people age 65 years and older as well as young children.

4. You can’t spread the flu if you’re feeling well – MYTH

Actually, 20% to 30% of people carrying the influenza virus have no symptoms. Just because you don’t feel ill, doesn’t mean you’re not carrying or spreading the illness.

5. You don’t need to get a flu shot every year – MYTH

The influenza virus changes each year. So getting vaccinated each year is important to make sure you have immunity to the strains most likely to cause an outbreak.

6. Flu can be treated with antibiotics – MYTH

Flu is caused by viruses – antibiotics only work against bacteria. You may be prescribed antiviral medicines to treat your flu.

Antivirals do not cure flu, but they can make you less infectious to others and reduce the length of time you may be ill.

If you would like to find out more about the flu vaccine visit the NHS website.