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Flu vaccine - who gets it?

Written by Caidr's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 26.01.2023 | 2 min read

The NHS runs a well-oiled machine every autumn to roll out flu vaccines to those that need them These include people in certain categories that make them vulnerable to severe illness if they catch the influenza virus. This can cause breathing difficulties, pneumonia, sepsis and death.

The flu vaccine is also prioritised for those looking after the most vulnerable: health care workers. This is for two reasons: firstly so they don't pass on the virus to their patients, and secondly so they don't become unwell and require time off sick.

Who gets the flu vaccine on the NHS?

People who fit the following criteria will be invited by their GP practice to book a flu vaccine:

  • Anyone aged 50 and over
  • Those aged under 50 with certain long term health conditions, such as heart or respiratory conditions, diabetes, physical disability or a weakened immune system
  • Asthma is one criteria, but only if you are prescribed regular steroid inhalers
  • Pregnant women
  • Carers
  • Children – see below for more info on the programme for 2-16 year olds

Your GP surgery will contact you if you are eligible to invite you in for a free vaccine. It’s best to get in before flu season starts, in September or October.

For children, those aged 2 - 3 years will be offered a vaccination at their GP practice, and those at primary and secondary school will have theirs done at school.

Why can’t everyone get it?

They can! But unfortunately not from the NHS. Anyone can buy the flu vaccine from a pharmacy and have it administered there. Make sure you are fit and well on the day, and the sooner in the season you get it, the earlier that you are protected.

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