The flu vaccine
A flu vaccine is available free on the NHS for:
- pregnant women
- children aged two and three
- children aged 2 to 18 with a long-term health condition
- adults aged 65 or older
- people with a serious or chronic medical condition
- healthcare workers or carers
- people living in a residential or nursing home
Despite popular belief, the flu vaccine cannot give you flu as it doesn't contain the active virus needed to do this.
The flu vaccine is available from October each year. If you think you need it, talk to your GP or practice nurse.
For more information on who should have the flu vaccine and how to get it, read the sections on the flu jab for adults , the flu jab for pregnant women and the children's flu vaccine
Flu vaccine for children
An annual nasal spray flu vaccine is available for all children aged two and three years as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme .
In some parts of the country, pre-school and primary school children between the ages of four and 10 will also be offered the vaccine.
Over time, as the programme rolls out, all children between the ages of two and 16 will be vaccinated against flu each year with the nasal spray.
The nasal spray flu vaccine is also for children aged two to 18 who are 'at risk' from flu, such as children with long-term health conditions.
The vaccine is given as a single dose of nasal spray squirted up each nostril. Not only is it needle-free (a big advantage for children), the nasal spray works even better than the injected flu vaccine with fewer side effects.
It’s quick and painless and will mean your child is less likely to become ill if they come into contact with the flu virus. Its brand name is Fluenz .
The injectable flu vaccine will continue to be offered to over-65s, pregnant women and adults and babies aged six months to two years with long-term medical conditions.