Don't miss your flu jab - it's free because you need it
The flu vaccination is the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus, that's why it's free for people who need it.
Flu is a highly infectious virus that can be spread rapidly through coughs and sneezes. Symptoms include high body temperatures, body aches and fatigue.
Anyone can catch flu at any time, but it's more prevalent over winter and some groups are at particular risk of the effects of the virus, which in the worst cases can result in hospitalisation, permanent disability, or even death. Last year, more than five thousand people were hospitalised because of flu, and the virus kills an average of eight thousand people annually.
The flu vaccination is the best protection we have. That's why it's free - because the following eligible groups really need it:
People with existing health conditions
Flu can lead to serious complications if you have an underlying health condition, such as COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease or a chronic neurological disease like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy.
Adults aged 65 and over
People of this age are more vulnerable and may suffer more than others if catching flu.
Pregnancy naturally weakens the body's immune system and, as a result, flu can cause serious complications for you and your baby. Pregnant women who get flu may be less able to fight off infections, increasing the risk of becoming ill. The flu jab is the safest way to protect you and your baby against flu, no matter how many months pregnant you are or however fit and healthy you feel.
Flu can be particularly nasty for children, who tend to be super-spreaders and can infect older, more vulnerable family members. The vaccine helps protect children from flu and reduce the chance of it spreading to others.
For most children, the flu vaccine is not usually an injection, just a quick and easy nasal spray.
Children aged 2 and 3 receive the vaccine through their GP and children in reception and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, receive it in school. If you have a child who is eligible, please make sure you sign the consent form allowing them to have the flu vaccine at school.
How to get your vaccine
If you're eligible, get your free flu vaccination from your GP practice, pharmacy or midwifery service (for pregnant women) as soon as possible to protect you before any outbreaks of flu.
You need to have the flu vaccination every year to protect yourself against new strains for the virus, so don't assume you are protected because you had it last year.
Please see this handy leaflet for more information about flu, who should have the vaccine and why. You can also visit www.nhs.uk/fluvaccine.