Get your free flu jab today!

The NHS in the Sussex is reminding people with that this year it’s more important than ever for them to have their free flu vaccination.

Every year the flu virus kills on average 11,000 people and hospitalises many more. It is estimated that those who catch COVID-19 and flu at the same time are twice as likely to die. This year it is therefore even more important to have a flu vaccination.  

Catching flu is more serious for those with a long-term health condition. Flu is a particular threat to people with long-term conditions that include:

Flu is a highly infectious illness which spreads rapidly, even people with mild or no symptoms can infect others. 

The best time to have a flu vaccination

It is best to have the vaccine before flu starts to circulate, which is usually from December onwards. But, if it is later in the season than this, it is still worth having.

The priority this year is to vaccinate those who are most at risk from flu first, including people of all ages who have a health condition that makes them more at risk from flu. People aged 50 to 64 without a health condition that puts them at risk from flu will be offered the vaccine later on and should wait to be invited for vaccination.

Those eligible for the free flu vaccination on the NHS this year (2021 to 2022) are:

- all children aged 2 to 15 (but not 16 years or older) on 31 August 2021
- those aged 6 months to under 50 years in clinical risk groups
- pregnant women
- those aged 50 years and over
- those in long-stay residential care homes
- carers
- close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
- frontline health and social care staff employed by:

  • a registered residential care or nursing home
  • registered domiciliary care provider
  • a voluntary managed hospice provider
  • Direct Payment (personal budgets) and/or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants.

Eligible people can book an appointment for their flu jab at their GP
practice or local pharmacy.

Pregnant women should ask for their free flu jab at their local maternity service.

If you have been advised you are eligible for a flu vaccine but can’t have the flu vaccine now because the best vaccine for you is not currently available, follow the advice from your GP surgery or pharmacy and book an appointment at the next opportunity.

If you are not eligible for a free vaccine you can still pay privately for one at a pharmacy.

Why you may be asked to wait to have your flu vaccine

GP practices and pharmacies are receiving phased deliveries of the vaccine and flu clinics are scheduled to coincide with these deliveries. By staggering appointments over the winter months, we can help protect as many people as possible from flu.

In past flu seasons, many of those eligible for the NHS funded flu vaccine got their flu jab in specially arranged clinics at their local surgery, pharmacy, the workplace or in the community. The COVID-19 pandemic means these venues will not be able to be used in the same way as before, including limits on the amount of people attending each vaccination session to maintain social distancing. Unfortunately, this has an impact on the speed at which people can be vaccinated.

Together, this does mean some may have to wait longer than they would wish to attend flu clinics.

Leaflet on flu vaccine and why people may have to wait longer than they may wish.

Why some people are being offered the vaccine while others have to wait

There are several types of flu vaccines available. You will be offered one that is recommended for you based on your age. This means some people will be offered a flu vaccine that is in stock while others, who need a different type of vaccine, may have to wait.

Wait for the right vaccine for you

Providers of flu vaccination services are required to offer the vaccine that is most effective for you. It is better to wait to get the right vaccine so that you get the most benefit from it.

Flu jab protects during pregnancy

We are urging pregnant women to get their free flu jab now, as during pregnancy there is a higher chance of developing complications from flu and can include bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia.

The Influenza Virus can also impact on unborn babies being born prematurely, with a low birthweight, and even lead to stillbirth or death.

Studies have proven it’s safe to have the flu vaccine during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to the expected due date. Those who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.

The vaccine does not contain any live viruses, so it cannot cause flu. Some people may get a slightly raised temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards, and may feel some soreness where injected.

Flu can cause harm to both mother and baby. The free flu vaccine is the very best protection for you and your unborn baby from the harms of flu.

However fit and healthy you might feel, if you are pregnant you need the flu vaccine now. The flu vaccine is the safest way to help protect you and your baby against the flu virus.

Free flu vaccination for people with a Learning Disability

The NHS in Brighton and Hove is offering people with a Learning Disability a free flu jab.

Easy Read materials for people with a Learning Disability

Becky sparks is a learning disability nurse who works in the South East. She has recorded a video for those with learning disabilities to talk to them about the importance of having their flu jab.

Parents urged to get their children vaccinated against flu virus

Parents and carers of children in Brighton and Hove are being urged to get their child protected against flu this year, reducing the risk of them becoming seriously ill and infecting their wider family.

All children aged 2 to 15 (but not 16 years or older) on 31 August 2021 are eligible. Every child aged two to three is can receive the vaccine at their GP practice. Children in Reception to Year 7 will receive the vaccination at school.

Children of all ages with a health condition that puts them at greater risk of flu are also eligible for the flu vaccin

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