The flu vaccination

Flu jab
Royal Voluntary Service and the NHS work together to encourage people over 65 to get flu safe with a free flu jab from their GP or pharmacist.

Flu is a highly contagious infection that anyone can catch, and it can be really serious for some. People at most risk include those aged 65 or over, pregnant women, and those with health conditions such as severe asthma, chest or heart complaints, and diabetes.

We hope that people with concerns about flu, carers and families, find this guide useful. Download a copy of The flu vaccination, print this page to give to someone you know or use the share button on the right.

For more information, speak to your GP or local pharmacist, or visit

Why have a flu jab?

The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so even if you had a jab last winter you'll need another one this year to stay flu safe. The jab doesn’t contain the ‘live’ virus so it cannot give you the flu.

If you’re in any of the 'at risk’ groups, the flu jab is completely free, and is a safe way of protecting you and your family in a matter of minutes.

Speak to your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist for advice and information about the flu vaccination or to arrange a convenient appointment and get your jab. It’s quick, safe and free for those most at risk from the flu virus.

Who is recommended to have a flu jab

People who are at particular risk from flu including people with underlying health conditions, learning disabilities and adults aged 65years old and over are being encouraged to get the free flu vaccination.The vaccination is the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus. That’s why the flu vaccine is free to eligible groups – because they really need it.

Flu is a highly infectious disease and can lead to serious complications if you have a learning disability or an underlying health condition such as COPD, bronchitis, emphysema,diabetes; if you have heart, kidney or liver disease; if you have a chronic neurological condition like cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis,motor neurone disease or Parkinson’s; or if you have Alzheimer’s or had astroke. Flu on top of health conditions like these increases your chance of serious health complications and a hospital visit.

Adults aged 65 years old and over are more vulnerable and may suffer more than most people if they catch flu. This year a more effective vaccine is being given to those aged 65 and over, which is proven to give better protection against flu for people of this age.  And if you are the main carer of an older or disabled person, you may also be eligible for the free flu vaccine.

So, to summarise, those who are recommended to have to flu vaccine include:

  • everyone aged 65 and over
  • everyone under 65 years of age who has a medical condition including children and babies over six months of age
  • all pregnant women, at any stage of pregnancy
  • all two- and three- year-old children
  • all children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
  • everyone living in a residential or nursing home
  • everyone who cares for an older or disabled person
  • household contacts of anyone who is immunocompromised
  • all frontline health and social care workers.

Flu facts

  • The flu jab can’t give you flu.
  • The flu jab is perfectly safe.
  • The flu virus changes, so you need a flu jab every year.
  • If you’re pregnant, the flu jab doesn’t harm your unborn baby. In fact it can protect your baby from flu for the first few months of life.
  • The flu jab also protects against swine flu.
  • The flu jab isn’t just for older people – pregnant women, those with health conditions, carers, and those with weakened immunity should all get the jab.
  • The flu jab protects people of all ages.
  • Flu isn’t just a cold, it can be a really serious illness.

Download Flu vaccinationDownload The flu vaccination to give to someone you know.

For more information about staying safe, healthy and warm this winter, see our guide preparing for severe wintry conditions.

Please exercise your common sense when considering this guide and whether to take any of the steps that may be suggested in it. Whilst we have taken reasonable care to ensure that any factual information is accurate and complete, most of the information in this guide is based on our views and opinions (and sometimes the views and opinions of the people or organisations we work with). As a result, we cannot make any promises about the accuracy or the completeness of the information and we don’t accept any responsibility for the results of your reliance on it.

Get ready for winter

From staying safe, to staying in touch and warding off illness, our guide has a lot of useful tips for staying warm, safe and well this winter.

Download a copy 

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