Flu Vaccination

Flu vaccination 2021-22

The NHS is delivering a safe and effective annual flu vaccination programme this autumn as it’s the best protection against flu and its complications.

Flu and COVID-19 can make some people seriously ill and it’s more important than ever to get the flu vaccine if you're eligible to, particularly as it is expected that this will be the first winter when COVID-19 will co-circulate alongside flu (the seasonal influenza virus).

In this Winter Vaccines Explained video, Dr Amir Khan, Dr Dawn Harper and Dr Karan Ranj explain why it is more important than ever for people to get their winter vaccines (flu and COVID-19 booster) as soon as possible this autumn as both viruses have the potential to cause serious illness and hospitalisation. Those eligible for the free flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster jab are being urged to book their appointments as soon as possible in a new campaign aiming to help people give themselves and their loved ones essential protection this winter. This comes as new research suggests that adults in England are severely underestimating the combined threat of COVID-19 and flu this winter.

Discover detailed information, including the latest Covid-19 FAQs, on the Covid-19 vaccination programme page.

Flu and the flu vaccine

Flu is very infectious and easily spread to other people from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours. To reduce the risk of spreading flu wash your hands often with warm water and soap, use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze and bin used tissues as quickly as possible.

Who can get a flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is free for older people, pregnant women, and those with certain underlying medical conditions.

The expanded influenza vaccination programme that we had last year, will continue this year (2021 to 2022). This means that the offer for 50 to 64 year olds will continue to protect this age group.

In addition, this year’s programme has been extended to four additional cohorts in secondary school so that all those from years 7 to year 11 will be offered the vaccination.

The flu vaccination: who should have it and why information on GOV.UK explains how you can help protect yourself and your children against flu this coming winter, and why it’s very important that people who are at increased risk from flu have their free vaccination every year. It is also available as a leaflet
 in the following 27 languages at GOV.UK:

English, English large print, Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Brazilian, Portuguese, Bulgarian, Chinese, Estonian, Farsi, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Latvian, Lithuanian, Punjabi, Polish, Romanian, Romany, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Turkish ,Twi, Ukrainian, Urdu and Yiddish.

Who is eligible to get a flu vaccine?

Those eligible for the free flu vaccination on the NHS this year (2021 to 2022) are:

  • all children aged 2 to 15 (but not 16 years or older) on 31 August 2021
  • those aged 6 months to under 50 years in clinical risk groups
  • pregnant women
  • those aged 50 years and over
  • those in long-stay residential care homes
  • carers
  • close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
  • frontline health and social care staff employed by:
    • a registered residential care or nursing home
    • registered domiciliary care provider or a voluntary managed hospice provider
    • Direct Payment (personal budgets) and/or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants.

Can I have a flu vaccine and a Covid-19 vaccine?

Do I still need to get my flu jab if I’ve had both of my COVID-19 vaccines?

Yes, the COVID-19 vaccine does not protect you from the flu, and vice versa. As you are eligible for both vaccines you should have them both.

When should you get your flu vaccine?

The vaccine is available from September.

When is the best time to get the vaccination?

The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, before flu starts circulating. But even if it's later, it's always worth getting vaccinated.

Does the flu vaccine work and are there any side effects?

The most common side effects from the flu vaccine can be a slight temperature or your arm may feel a little sore where you had the injection. Other side effects are rare.
I’ve heard that the vaccination can give you flu. Is that true?

No. The flu vaccine that is given to adults is made from dead flu virus and cannot cause the infection. The flu vaccine that will be given to most children is a live vaccine, but the viruses in it have been weakened so they can not cause flu. You may get some side effects after the vaccination but these are quite mild like a slightly raised temperature or aching muscles for a couple of days or an ache in the arm where the injection was given. Other reactions are very rare.

General questions about flu and the flu vaccine

Why get the vaccine?

The vaccine provides the best available protection against flu. It is not 100% effective but it will protect a significant number of people and reduce the severity of flu if you get it. It could also help your relatives or carers because you will not be passing the disease to them.

The flu vaccine and pregnancy

The Flu, your pregnancy and you leaflet is a helpful guide to what you need to know and do to protect yourself and your baby. Pregnant women are at increased risk of getting serious complications from flu, compared with other healthy adults. Flu can also be serious for new-born babies, who can catch the infection from their mothers. This leaflet describes how having the flu vaccination during pregnancy can help protect you and your baby against this infection.

  • The flu jab will help protect both you and your baby.
  • It's safe to have the flu vaccine during any stage of pregnancy, from conception onwards.
  • Women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.
  • Pregnancy alters how the body handles infections such as flu.
  • Flu infection increases the chances of pregnant women and their babies needing intensive care.
  • 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.
  • The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, before flu starts circulating.
  • If you've missed this time, you can have the flu vaccine later in the winter although it's best to get it earlier. Do not worry if you find that you're pregnant later in the flu season – you can have the vaccine then if you have not already had it.
I’m pregnant, will the flu jab affect my baby?

It's safe to have at any stage of pregnancy, including in the first trimester and right up to the expected due date. It helps protect the mother-to-be and newborn baby from catching flu.

The flu vaccine - information for people with learning disabilities

Find easy read guides and videos for people with learning disabilities and their carers at GOV.UK about the importance of the flu vaccination for people with a learning disability and autistic people with certain health conditions. They explain why it is important to have it every year, who is eligible for a free vaccine, and where to get the vaccine. It also explains why providers of the vaccine need to make reasonable adjustments.
More films about the importance of the flu vaccination for people with a learning disability
  • Watch a short film that covers why it is important, who is eligible for a free vaccine, where you can get the vaccine and reasonable adjustments.
  • Watch a short film featuring Registered Learning Disability nurse Becky.

The flu vaccine and your child

Discover flu vaccination for children: leaflets and posters for parents and carers of preschool and primary school-aged children and young people in years 7 to 11. Braille version of this leaflet is available to order and a British Sign Language BSL preschool and primary video with subtitles is available to download.

The Children and Family Health Surrey Immunisation team is responsible for the planning and delivery of the school-age immunisation programmes in Surrey. The vaccination programmes are primarily carried out in schools, although they also offer clinics in other community settings for home-educated children and other children depending on their individual needs.

The team is made up of registered nurses and administrators. They cover all schools in Surrey, as well as any children who are home educated.


Are children offered a nasal spray vaccination?
  • Yes.
    • Children aged 2 and 3 (DOB range 01/09/2017-31/08/2019) will be given the vaccination at their GP surgery, usually by the practice nurse.
    • Children who are 4 years old are also eligible for flu vaccination provided they were 3 on 31 August 2021. These children should be offered the vaccination at their GP surgery.
    • All school aged children will be offered it in school unless they have an underlying health condition. An alternative flu vaccine, in the form of an injection, will again be available this year for children whose parents decline the flu nasal spray due to its porcine gelatine content.
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