People aged 50 or over, those with a health condition and carers

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer recommends you have the free flu vaccine this year if you:

  • are aged 50 or over (or will be by 31 March 2022)
  • have an eligible health condition
  • are an unpaid or young carer

Getting the vaccine is the safest and most effective way to help protect yourself against flu.

During vaccination, strict infection prevention and control measures will be in place.

Why should I get the vaccine?

Every year in Scotland, around two-thirds of people who get severe flu and need intensive care treatment have a health condition such as diabetes, chronic lung or heart disease.

Adults with a health condition are more at risk of flu-related complications and need extra protection, even if you feel healthy or that your health condition is mild or well-managed.

People aged 50 and over are more vulnerable to seasonal flu than those in younger age groups. The flu vaccine will help to protect this age group and lower the risk of infection.

How will I get the vaccine?

Those aged 70 or over will be contacted by their local NHS health board with details about their appointment.

Information about how to arrange your flu vaccination for all other eligible individuals will be available soon. Please do not phone your GP practice or NHS 24 for this information.

Who's eligible for the flu vaccine

People with certain health conditions are at greater risk from flu. Conditions and diseases which can make flu more dangerous include:

Chronic respiratory disease (from 6 months or older)
  • Asthma that requires continuous or repeated use of inhaled or systemic steroids or with previous exacerbations requiring hospital admission.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) including chronic bronchitis and emphysema; bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, interstitial lung fibrosis, pneumoconiosis and bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD).
  • Children who have previously been admitted to hospital for lower respiratory tract disease.
Chronic heart disease (from 6 months or older)

Congenital heart disease, hypertension with cardiac complications, chronic heart failure, individuals requiring regular medication and/or follow-up for ischaemic heart disease.

Chronic kidney disease (from 6 months or older)

Chronic kidney disease at stage 3, 4 or 5, chronic kidney failure, nephritic syndrome, kidney transplantation.

Chronic liver disease (from 6 months or older)

Cirrhosis, biliary atresia, chronic hepatitis from any cause such as Hepatitis B and C infections and other non-infective causes.

Chronic neurological disease (from 6 months or older)
  • Stroke, transient ischaemic attack (TIA).
  • Conditions in which respiratory function may be compromised, due to neurological disease (e.g. polio syndrome sufferers).
  • Clinicians should offer the vaccine, based on individual assessment, to clinically vulnerable individuals including those with cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, multiple sclerosis and related or similar conditions; or hereditary and degenerative disease of the nervous system or muscles; or severe neurological or severe learning disability.
Diabetes (from 6 months or older)

Type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes requiring insulin or oral hypoglycaemic drugs, diet-controlled diabetes.

Immunosuppression (from 6 months or older)

Immunosuppression due to disease or treatment, including patients undergoing chemotherapy leading to immunosuppression, bone marrow transplant. HIV infection at all stages, multiple myeloma or genetic disorders affecting the immune system (eg IRAK-4, NEMO, complement disorder).

Individuals treated with or likely to be treated with systemic steroids for more than a month at a dose equivalent to prednisolone at 20mg or more per day (any age) or for children under 20kg a dose of 1mg or more per kg per day.

Asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen

This also includes conditions such as homozygous sickle cell disease and coeliac syndrome that may lead to splenic dysfunction (i.e. those with coeliac disease that are considered to have functional hyposplenism).

Morbid obesity (class III obesity)

Adults with a Body Mass Index ≥ 40 kg/m². Check your Body Mass Index (BMI) with our easy-to-use calculator.

Anyone undergoing chemotherapy treatment or on medication that reduces their immunity is at higher risk and should get immunised.

If you’re under 18 years old and have a health condition (or care for someone who does) you should also get the vaccine. You will be offered the flu vaccine at school.

More about the child flu vaccine

Carers

Unpaid carers and young carers are also eligible for the free flu vaccine.

Unpaid carers provide help and support to a partner, child, relative, friend or neighbour, who couldn’t manage without their help.

This could be due to age, physical or mental illness, addiction or disability.

A young carer is an under-18 providing support which would normally be undertaken by an adult.