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How to book your flu jab before winter

Winter is coming and with it comes an increased risk of catching flu. Flu can leave many of us feeling dreadful and bedridden for days, but for some people, the effects can be more severe or even life-threatening. Getting your flu jab is the best way to protect yourself and others - and here’s how to get yours.

People are being urged to have their flu jab and COVID-19 booster vaccine as soon as possible to protect themselves against winter viruses. This year, the NHS autumn flu and COVID-19 vaccine programmes started earlier - on 11 September - as a precautionary measure after the spread of a new COVID-19 variant.

There are many different flu viruses and a flu jab helps protect you from the main ones. Although there's still a chance you could get the flu - even if you are vaccinated every year - your symptoms will likely be less severe. Having the vaccine also helps to prevent you from spreading the virus to other vulnerable people.

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Who can have the flu vaccine on the NHS?

The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS in England - Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different eligibility - to adults who:

  • 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.

The flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS to people with certain long-term health conditions, including:

How to book the flu vaccine

In England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, if you're eligible for an NHS flu vaccine, you can get your vaccine from your doctor's surgery or a pharmacy that offers the NHS flu vaccine. If you are pregnant, some maternity services may offer the jab.

You may receive an invitation to get vaccinated, but if you are eligible, you don’t need to wait for a text, letter or email before booking an appointment.

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Can you have your flu jab privately?

If you aren’t eligible for a free NHS flu vaccination, you can book an appointment at a local pharmacy through Patient Access.

People who are at highest risk of serious complications from flu are offered a free flu vaccination on the NHS. But even if you’re not in one of these groups, flu can make you feel extremely unwell - and the flu jab is the best way to protect yourself.

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The information on this page is peer reviewed by qualified clinicians.

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