The best way to prevent getting flu is to have the flu jab (or flu nasal spray for children aged 2 to 17). The flu vaccine gives good protection against flu and lasts for one year.
People who should have a flu vaccine
The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to people who are at risk. This is to help protect them against catching flu and developing serious complications.
You should have the flu vaccine if you:
• are 65 years old or over
• are pregnant
• have certain medical conditions
• are living in a long-stay residential care home or another long-stay care facility
• receive a carer’s allowance, or you’re the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
Flu vaccine for children
Flu can be horrible for little children, so it is important to protect them from becoming unwell. Most children will be offered the nasal spray vaccine, which has been shown to be effective at protecting them against flu and has been used in millions of children for many years.
For young children, the flu vaccine is just a quick nasal spray, which they can get at their GP practice if they are aged two and three, or in school from reception class to year six.
The vaccine helps prevent children from getting flu and whilst it can’t stop all flu viruses, if they get flu after the vaccination, it’s likely to be milder and they will recover more quickly.
Pregnant women and the flu vaccine
If you’re pregnant, you’re advised to have the injectable flu vaccine, regardless of the stage of pregnancy you have reached.
That’s because there’s strong evidence to suggest pregnant women have an increased risk of developing complications if they get flu.
If you’re pregnant, you’ll benefit from the flu vaccine because:
- it reduces your chance of getting serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy
- it reduces your risk of having a miscarriage, or your baby being born prematurely or with a low birthweight, because of flu
- it’ll help protect your baby, as they’ll continue to have some immunity to flu for the first few months of their life
It’s safe to have the flu vaccine at any stage of pregnancy from conception onwards. Talk to a GP, midwife or pharmacist if you want more information.
Find out if you're at risk of getting flu
Ask your GP or read the guidance below on who should have the flu jab. If you're in a high-risk group, see your GP to get the vaccination.Find out more