Flu Vaccine Advice
Why the flu vaccine is important
There has never been a more important time to make sure you, and those you care for, are protected against serious illnesses such as the flu.
This year the flu vaccine is being offered on the NHS to frontline health or social care workers.
We are asking our colleagues to get flu vaccination this autumn. By having the flu vaccination, you will help protect yourself and others from what can be a severe, and sometimes fatal, illness which could lead to hospital treatment. You will also be helping to protect the NHS from coming under pressure this winter.
More people are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, research shows you're more likely to be seriously ill.
Unlike the COVID-19 vaccine, the flu vaccine is not mandatory for people working in CQC-registered care homes in England. However, the government is consulting in relation to making COVID-19 and flu vaccines mandatory for all frontline health and social care workers, including colleagues in our Supported Living services.
You can have the NHS flu vaccine at:
- your GP surgery
- a pharmacy offering the service
- your midwifery service if you’re pregnant
- a hospital appointment
If you do not have your flu vaccine at your GP surgery, you do not have to tell the surgery. This will be done for you.
Find a pharmacy that offers the NHS flu vaccine here:
The flu vaccine gives the best protection against flu.
Flu vaccines help protect against the main types of flu viruses, although there’s still a chance you might get flu. If you do get flu after vaccination, it’s likely to be milder and not last as long.
Having the flu vaccine will also stop you spreading flu to other people who may be more at risk of serious problems from flu. It can take 10 to 14 days for the flu vaccine to work.
The flu vaccination is safe and effective and is offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of getting seriously ill from flu. It cannot give you the flu. It does not protect you from COVID-19 or seasonal coughs and colds, but it does give protection against the strains of flu virus that will be circulating this year.
It’s safe to have the flu vaccine if you’ve had COVID-19. It will still be effective at helping to prevent flu.
Colleagues in our frontline residential care and supported living services are eligible for both the flu and the COVID-19 booster vaccines. If you are offered both vaccines, it’s safe to have them at the same time.
Adults usually receive the flu vaccination in injection form. The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn or early winter before flu starts spreading, but you can get the vaccine later.
Only one in a million people get serious side effects. Most side effects are mild and only last for a day or so, such as:
- slightly raised temperature
- muscle aches
- sore arm where the needle went in – this is more likely to happen with the vaccine for people aged 65 and over
Mild side effects such as soreness around the injection site and aching muscles are far less serious than the effects of contracting flu.
Try these tips to help reduce the discomfort:
- continue to move your arm regularly
- take a painkiller, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen – some people, including those who are pregnant, should not take ibuprofen unless a doctor recommends it.
You can report a side effect through the Yellow Card scheme:
It’s very rare for anyone to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to the flu vaccine. If this does happen, it usually happens within minutes.
The person who vaccinates you will be trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.
Most adults can have the flu vaccine, but you should avoid it if you have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past.
You may be at risk of an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine injection if you have an egg allergy. This is because some flu vaccines are made using eggs.
Ask a GP or pharmacist for a low-egg or egg-free vaccine.
If you’re ill with a high temperature, it’s best to wait until you’re better before having the flu vaccine.
There are several types of injected flu vaccine. None of them contain live viruses so they cannot give you flu.
If you’re eligible for the flu vaccine on the NHS, you’ll be offered one that’s most effective for you, depending on your age:
- adults aged 18 to 64 – there are different types, including low-egg and egg-free ones
- adults aged 65 and over – the most common one contains an extra ingredient to help your immune system make a stronger response to the vaccine.
The flu virus mutates constantly, and the vaccine is updated every year to counter the latest strains, so it is important to get vaccinated annually.
The flu vaccine is safe at any stage of pregnancy and is recommended for all pregnant women as they face a higher risk of developing complications from flu.
The NHS is doing everything it can to make sure that vaccinations are given in safe environments. All possible precautions will be taken to make sure you are protected.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, do not attend your vaccination appointment but instead self-isolate and book a coronavirus test at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ or by calling 119. You can rebook your flu vaccination appointment at a later date.
The flu virus and COVID-19 have symptoms which overlap, such a high temperature or persistent cough. It may be difficult to tell which virus you have. For this reason, it’s really important that you have a flu vaccination, and that you continue to follow the guidance on self-isolation and testing at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ if you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19.