Flu (influenza) is a common infectious respiratory illness. You can catch flu all year round, but it's especially common in winter.
The flu vaccine will be available between October and March.
The flu vaccine is the safest and most effective way to help protect against flu. It will also help reduce the risk of spreading flu to others.
Why should I get vaccinated?
The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine, and 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.
Flu vaccines help protect against the main types of flu viruses, although 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 will also stop you spreading flu to other people who may be more at risk of serious problems from flu.
The vaccine takes around 10 days to work and should help protect you during flu season. 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.
Which vaccines are used?
The following vaccines are routinely used in Scotland for people aged 18 years and over:
Adjuvanted Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine (aQIV) is being offered to people aged 65 or over. This vaccine contains a substance, known as an adjuvant, to help to stimulate the immune system and create a better response.
This vaccine has been widely used in many other countries and has been shown to offer better and longer-lasting protection in older people than flu vaccines without an adjuvant.
If you have an egg allergy
Some of the flu vaccines are made using eggs.
It’s important that you tell the person giving you your vaccine if you have an egg allergy or if you’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine.
If you're affected, please speak to your health professional for advice. An egg-free vaccine may be available.
Vaccine side effects
As with all medicines, side effects of the flu vaccine are possible, but usually mild.
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).