Getting your flu vaccination is a step that can help prevent you from getting and spreading flu.1 The NHS recommends getting a flu vaccination every year, because the flu virus is different every year.2

When you get your flu vaccination, you will be offered the one that’s recommended for your age group.3 Some people may experience side effects, such as soreness around the injection site.3

The injectable flu vaccination cannot give you flu, and it can help reduce the risk of the more serious effects of flu.4,5 The flu vaccination activates your body’s internal defence – your immune system – to create the proteins that ‘fight’ influenza, the virus that causes flu. These proteins are known as ‘antibodies’, and they may work against the different types of influenza, which are called ‘strains’.6 Your body may take 10–14 days to ‘teach’ your immune system to work against the influenza strains contained in the flu vaccination.6 Then, if you are exposed to the flu virus, your immune system will be able to recognise the virus and make the correct antibodies to fight it. 6 However, if you are exposed to the flu virus before your immunity is built up from the flu vaccination, you may get flu.6

Family walking in the countryside

A flu vaccination is offered free of charge on the NHS to eligible people who are considered at risk, even if they feel well.3

Talk to your GP, nurse or pharmacist if you would like further information or advice about flu or the national flu vaccination programme for children.

  • 1. Public Health England. Public health matters – Flu vaccination: What you need to know about this year’s programme. Available at: https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2018/09/13/flu-vaccination-what-you-need-to-know-about-this-years-programme/ [Last accessed November 2020].
  • 2. NHS Inform Scotland. Flu. Available at: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/flu [Last accessed November 2020].
  • 3. NHS. Flu vaccine overview. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/ [Last accessed November 2020].
  • 4. NHS. Facts about the flu and flu vaccine. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/facts-about-flu-and-the-flu-vaccine/ [Last accessed November 2020].
  • 5. NHS. Who should have the flu vaccine? Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/who-should-have-flu-vaccine/ [Last accessed November 2020].
  • 6. NHS. How the flu vaccine works. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/how-flu-vaccine-works/ [Last accessed November 2020].

Date of preparation: November 2020 | MAT-GB-2001688(v1.0)