Who is eligible for the flu jab?
Flu is a seasonal virus that affects millions in the UK. It can affect all of us, especially the vulnerable. Vaccination is key, as even the fittest and healthiest person can catch and spread the flu virus. The pharmacy flu vaccination service is for everyone over the age of 18.
The flu vaccine can help your immune system to cope better with infections so that when you’re exposed, you suffer fewer symptoms and hopefully shake the illness off quicker. But who is eligible for the flu jab?
Who is eligible for the flu vaccine?
The good news is that almost everyone can have the flu vaccine. While your experience of the flu might be a few days off with an unpleasant cold-like illness, it can be dangerous to those who have underlying health conditions. Getting the flu vaccine can mean you’re less likely to be contagious, or that you’ll be contagious for a shorter period of time. This can help to protect more vulnerable members of the community.
Although the flu vaccine is generally safe to have, there are some people who should not have the flu vaccine, as there is a small risk of an allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine before, it’s best not to have it as the reaction could reoccur.
Most people aren’t at great risk of having an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine if they haven’t had one before, but you may be more at risk if you have an egg allergy. This is because some vaccines contain eggs. It’s important to discuss this with your pharmacist or doctor, as they should be able to give you a low- or no-egg vaccine instead to help reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. You’ll be monitored for a short while after having the vaccine, so if any adverse effects do occur, you’ll be in safe hands.
Can you have the flu jab if you have a cold?
If you feel ill, it may be worth waiting to have your flu vaccination when you feel better. This is particularly true if you have a high fever or you feel too ill to go to work or continue with your usual daily routine. This is because your immune system is already busy fighting off your illness. Having the flu vaccine could put an extra burden on your immune system and result in you feeling ill for longer.
Who gets free flu jabs?
Our pharmacies offer free NHS flu jabs to those who are deemed most in need of them. Your eligibility is based on your age, specific health conditions, your occupation, and the people you live with. For example, if you live or work with vulnerable people, you may be offered the flu vaccine in order to protect them.
Here are some of the criteria that would make you eligible for the flu vaccination:
- Being 65 or over by a certain date (check with your pharmacist if you’re unsure if this applies to you)
- Being pregnant
- Working in frontline healthcare
- Living in residential care long term
- Receiving a carer’s allowance and/or being a carer for a vulnerable person
- Being or living with someone who has a weakened immune system
You can also get the free flu vaccination if you’re living with certain long term health conditions. These include:
- Respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma
- Heart conditions such as heart failure or coronary heart disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Liver disease, such as hepatitis or cirrhosis
- Some neurological conditions such as motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Problems with your spleen such as having had it removed, or sickle cell disease
- Some learning disabilities
If you have a long term condition that’s not on this list or you are in any way unsure about whether or not you qualify for a free NHS flu jab, speak to your pharmacist today. You may be offered a free vaccination if your health provider believes you or someone close to you would be at risk of serious illness if you were to get the flu.
To get your flu vaccination get in touch with your local pharmacy to book your vaccination appointment. And don’t worry if you’re not eligible for the free jab – you can still get the private flu vaccination.