Wednesday, July 6, 2022

When should you get the flu jab?

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flu vaccine
Flu jabs could well have a higher uptake this year (Picture: Getty)

With winter flu season approaching, many people are wondering about getting jabs this year, amid fears that the NHS could be overstretched dealing with flu, Covid and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) patients during the colder months.

There have been warnings that 60,000 people could die of flu this winter, due to low immunity from the illness caused by months of lockdowns last autumn and winter.

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The flu vaccine is a safe and effective jab offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications.

But just when should you get the vaccine?

When should you get the flu jab?

Flu jabs are now available across the country – with those who are eligible for a free jab able to book theirs at their GP surgery, a pharmacy which offers them or from a midwife if you are pregnant.

Anyone can get the flu jab at any time, but if you don’t fall into one of the eligible categories you’ll have to pay for one yourself at a participating pharmacy.

woman receives a vaccine
The NHS could be overstretched this winter by flu, Covid and RSV (Picture: Reuters)
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Many places of work also offer subsidised jabs for their staff – so it’s worth asking if yours does this.

More than 35m people in England are eligible for a free flu jab – and you qualify if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • Aged six months to under 50 years in clinical risk groups
  • Pregnant
  • Aged 50 years and over
  • In residential care
  • Unpaid carer
  • Close contacts of people with weakened immune systems
  • Health and care staff

Children are also eligible for the flu vaccine, although will receive it in the form of a nasal spray.

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Those who are eligible include:

  • All children who are aged two and three on August 31, 2021.
  • All children in primary school and all secondary school pupils under the age of 16 on August 31, 2021.

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Those who are also due for a Covid booster have been told that they can have them at the same time after the JCVI ruled this to be safe.

Around 11,000 people in England die from flu each year depending on the different strains in circulation – although the number was lower last year due to social distancing measures and fewer people meeting indoors, raising concerns numbers could spike this year in the wake of lockdowns being lifted.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: ‘We will see flu circulate this winter; it might be higher than usual and that makes it a significant public health concern.

‘Covid-19 will still be circulating and with more people mixing indoors, sadly some increases are possible.’

MORE : How much does the flu jab cost at Boots and where can you get cheap vaccines in the UK?

MORE : Unions demand return to school bubbles and masks in classrooms

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