Flu season is coming up again and we are urging all those in Somerset in an NHS target group to get a free flu vaccination.

Which groups can get a free flu vaccine on the NHS for 2020/21 season?

You should have the flu vaccine if you are:

    • 65 years old or over on 31st March 2021 (i.e. born on or before 31 March 1956)
    • Pregnant at any stage of pregnancy
    • 6 months to 65 years old and have certain medical conditions
      • Chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma (that requires an inhaler or tablet steroid treatment, or has led to hospital admission in the past), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis.
      • Chronic heart disease, taking regular medication for ischaemic heart disease, chronic heart failure or congenital heart disease, hypertension with cardiac complications.
      • Chronic kidney disease at stage 3, 4 or 5, chronic kidney failure, nephrotic syndrome or kidney transplant, those on kidney dialysis.
      • Chronic liver disease, such as chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis or biliary atresia. More information on liver disease and flu.
      • Chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy. More information for people with a learning disability.
      • Diabetes mellitus  More information on diabetes and flu.
      • Spleen problems – for example, sickle cell disease, if you have had your spleen removed or have coeliac syndrome (due to impact on immune system)
      • Weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy.
      • People who have a cochlear implant
      • Are seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above).
    • Living in a long-stay residential care home or another long-stay care facility.
    • Household contacts of an individual on the shielded patient list aged 6 months and over
    • Carers: if you receive a carer’s allowance, or you’re the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill. More information for Carers.
    • Child aged 2 and 3 years on 31 August 2020 (that is, born between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2018).
    • Children in primary school and year 7. More information on the school programme including visit dates.
    • Work in a care home, residential or nursing home or provide domiciliary care for those in vulnerable group or employed through Direct Payments or Personal Health Budget to deliver domiciliary care.
    • Your GP may decide you are clinically at risk for other reasons and recommend a flu jab.

There is more information on these target groups on the NHS website.

Where can I get my free NHS flu vaccination?

Children in primary school will be vaccinated at school. More information on the programme including visit dates.

If you are eligible as an employed health or care worker then contact your occupational health provider for more information. Or you can go along to a pharmacy with ID to prove you are eligible, for example your ID badge, recent payslip or letter from employer on headed paper.

Everyone else in one of the targeted groups will be able to go to their GP or a pharmacy to get a flu vaccination. You do not need a letter from your GP, just tell the pharmacist which target group you are in.

If you are on your GP’s target lists you will have received direct contact from them, either by letter, text or phone call advising on the process for flu vaccinations. GPs are starting to host flu clinics, phone, have a look at your local GP website for more information or drop into the surgery.

The following pharmacies in Somerset offer flu vaccinations:

If I am not eligible for a free flu vaccination can I get one privately?

Yes. If you are not eligible for a free NHS vaccination, at pharmacies offering flu jabs you can pay privately. The cost can be as little as around £7.

What are the risks of side effects from the flu vaccination?

Its quite common for your arm to feel a little sore immediately after receiving the vaccination. The vaccine which is given to those 65 and over is especially boosted as your immune system is generally weaker as you get older. This means the risk of feeling a bit under the weather for a couple of days is increased. This is not a form of flu but the reaction of your immune system to the vaccine.

The vaccination types given to adults only contain ‘dead’ virus so you cannot catch flu from it. It takes about two weeks to completely build up your immunity from the vaccination, in this time you may just be unlucky to catch flu. Or you may develop a cold unrelated to the vaccine.

The rate of more severe allergic reactions to a vaccination is about 1-2 per million vaccinations given. The person giving your vaccination will be trained what to do if this happens.

There is more information on the NHS website on side effects.