People who should have a flu jab
The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to people who are at risk.This is to ensure they are protected against catching flu and developing serious complications.
You are eligible to receive a free flu jab if you:
- are 65 years of age or over
- are pregnant
- have certain medical conditions
- are very overweight
- are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
- receive a carer’s allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
Over-65s and the flu jab
You are eligible for the flu vaccine this year (2015-16) if you are aged 65 and over on March 31 2016 – that is, you were born on or before March 31 1951. So, if you are currently 64 but will be 65 on March 31 2016, you do qualify.
Pregnant women and the flu jab
If you’re pregnant, you’re advised to have the injectable flu vaccine, regardless of the stage of pregnancy you’ve 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 will 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 birth weight because of the flu
- it will help protect your baby as they will 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. The vaccine doesn’t carry any risks for you or your baby. Talk to your GP or midwife if you are unsure about the vaccination.
Flu jab for people with medical conditions
The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to anyone with a serious long-term health condition. That includes these types of illnesses:
- chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma (which requires an inhaled or tablet steroid treatment, or has led to hospital admission in the past), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease
- problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medication such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
This list of conditions isn’t definitive. It’s always an issue of clinical judgement.
Flu vaccine for children
The flu vaccine is recommended for:
- children over the age of six months with a long-term health condition
- healthy children aged two, three and four plus children in school years one and two.
Children aged between six months and two years of age who are eligible for the flu vaccine should have the flu jab.
Children eligible for the flu vaccine aged between two and 18 will usually have the flu vaccine nasal spray.
Flu jab if you’re very overweight
The injected flu jab is recommended for anyone who is severely overweight with a body mass index (BMI) over 40.
Read more about BMI and how to check it.