Over the last week, the government has announced that it will be revising lockdown rules. Some towns and cities have gone into local lockdown and Boris Johnson ordered a 10 p.m. curfew on pubs and restaurants across the country. With winter approaching, top scientists are urging the public to get a flu jab as being infected with flu and coronavirus as the same time could be seriously dangerous, they say. With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about the flu vaccine in the UK.
Who is eligible for a free flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine is offered every year on the NHS to protect people from the risk of flu and the complications that can come with it over the winter months. Certain groups are offered it for free, including:
- People over the age of 65
- Pregnant people
- Young children (children over six months with a long-term health condition, those aged two and three, and those in primary school)
- People with certain pre-existing conditions (kidney disease, asthma, heart disease, and more)
- Health and social care workers
However, this year more people will be eligible for a free jab. Groups that have been added to this list are:
- Anyone over 50 will be offered a free vaccine this year
- All school year groups up to year 7
- People who are being asked by the government to shield and members of their household
If you don’t fall into any of those categories then you will have to pay for a flu jab. Prices can vary but the vaccine usually costs between £8 and £12.99.
Where can you get the flu vaccine in the UK?
You can get your flu vaccine at:
- your GP surgery
- a pharmacy offering the service (Boots, Lloyds, Well, and Superdrug are all offering jabs, as well as pharmacies in Tesco, Asda, and Morrisons)
- your midwifery service (if you're pregnant)
However, this year those who are most vulnerable will be prioritised. The NHS has said (via BBC) that "those eligible for the free vaccine would be immunised in phases, with the highest risk groups receiving it first." It was announced on Sept. 22 that Boots would no longer be taking bookings from under-65s for flu jabs as stock were running low following a record number of requests.
When should you get the flu vaccine?
As the NHS notes, the best time to get the flu vaccine is in the autumn before the infection starts spreading.
What does the flu vaccine protect you from?
It's important to note that this vaccine does not protect you from COVID-19. Speaking to the Express, Richard Bradley, Director of Pharmacy at Boots, said:
“As COVID-19 continues to be present in the UK, it is more important than ever for people to consider getting their flu vaccination this year. Although the flu vaccination does not prevent COVID-19 in any way, both of these viruses have an impact on the respiratory system so if you can prevent the flu, it can be a huge benefit to your overall health including your immunity system.”
However, even though the flu is not the same as COVID-19, it is still serious. The BBC reports that it kills around 11,000 people in England each year and leaves many more in hospital.