Flu vaccine

Flu (influenza) is a common infectious respiratory virus. Symptoms may include a fever, a cough, a headache and tiredness. The virus spreads through the air when people cough or sneeze, or when they touch surfaces where the virus has landed then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. You can catch flu all year round, but it's especially common in winter. It can be serious, even if you're healthy.

The flu vaccine is the safest and most effective way to help protect against flu. It'll also help reduce the risk of spreading flu to others. The flu vaccine is available between September and March.

Why should I get vaccinated?

The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It gives the best protection against flu. It’s offered every year for free by the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications.

The vaccine helps protect against the main types of flu viruses. But there’s still a chance you might get flu after having the vaccine. If you do get flu after vaccination, it’s likely to be milder and not last as long.

Having the flu vaccine can also stop you spreading flu to other people who may be more at risk of complications and serious illness if they catch flu.

Flu can be serious and life-threatening. Getting vaccinated is the safest and most effective way to protect yourself.

You have to get immunised every year because flu viruses change constantly and your immunity reduces over time.

The flu vaccine can’t give you flu, but it can stop you catching it.

Only one dose of the flu vaccine is needed each winter.

Vaccine safety

All medicines (including vaccines) are tested for safety and effectiveness before they're allowed to be used.

Once they're in use, the safety of vaccines continues to be monitored by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Last updated:
03 April 2023