What happens if there's a shortage of flu vaccines?
We have enough flu vaccine doses for everyone who's eligible - around 2.4 million people.
Scotland has a good track record of delivering the flu vaccine. During the 2019/20 flu season, 74% of people over 65 were given the vaccine - a higher number than the rest of the UK, and any other EU country. This year, we've planned for 90% of people over 65 to be vaccinated.
However, if demand exceeds what we've planned for, the priority will be to protect the people most vulnerable to flu, based on the best clinical advice.
How will I know about getting my flu vaccination?
Most people entitled to a free flu vaccination will get a letter from their local health board. It'll give you an appointment time and tell you where to go.
For more information visit NHS inform or call 0800 22 44 88.
The flu vaccine is the safest and most effective way to help protect against flu.
The Scottish Government is encouraging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated.
Why can't I get the flu vaccine from my GP practice?
This year, delivering the flu vaccine is the responsibility of NHS health boards and Health and Social Care Partnerships.
The challenge is to deliver the best local vaccination programme we can while still taking precautions against coronavirus infection for staff and patients.
The need to maintain good infection prevention and control measures and proper physical distancing will make it hard for GP practices to deliver the flu vaccine to the levels of previous years.
During the coronavirus pandemic, it's important we make sure as many people as possible who are at risk of either flu or coronavirus are vaccinated against flu.
Why haven't I been able to book an appointment by phone?
Some local health boards have received a huge volume of calls. Please try to call again at another time. You can also use the ‘How to get the flu vaccine in my area’ guide above to find out how to arrange your vaccination.
Please be assured the Scottish Government are working with NHS health boards to ensure all those eligible for the flu vaccine will receive an appointment.
It is important that everyone who is eligible for a free flu vaccine takes up this opportunity.
Why is a phased approach necessary?
Using a phased approach lets local health boards begin vaccinating vulnerable groups earlier, instead of waiting until the last delivery date.
Will free eligibility be extended to any more groups this flu season?
Coronavirus has affected every part of public health, including world-wide vaccine supply.
This has forced the Scottish Government to make hard decisions about expanding eligibility.
The coronavirus pandemic means the current situation can change at very short notice. This approach allows NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government to adapt to change through the flu season, while always prioritising those most at risk and protecting the NHS as much as possible.
Once it's known how many people are vaccinated among groups at the greatest clinical risk, it'll be possible to look at expanding eligibility to other groups, including people aged 50-54. This will always depend on vaccine supply.
Will the start of the flu vaccination programme be affected by the coronavirus pandemic?
The flu programme is more important than ever this year, to help protect the most vulnerable and, at the same time, support the NHS.
Vaccination of eligible people, as well as social care workers delivering direct personal care and household members of those shielding, began on 1 October - the usual start date for the flu vaccination programme.
Those with existing eligibility for the flu vaccine are:
- those aged 65 and over
- those who have an eligible health condition
- pregnant women
- health care workers
- young and unpaid carers
- children aged 2-5 (and not yet at school)
- primary school children
Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include symptoms such as:
- fever (temperature above 37.8°C)
- dry, chesty cough
- tiredness or exhaustion
More about the symptoms of flu or visit our the Self-help guide about Flu-like illness.