Flu 2020

Just the Flu poster

The flu virus kills thousands on an average year, but this is anything but an average year. The vaccine is the best protection. Help us help you protect against flu.

Flu is a serious condition that kills on average 11,000 people in England each year and hospitalises tens of thousands more. But this is anything but an average year. Adults at high risk from flu are also most at risk from COVID-19 and the free vaccine is more important than ever, to help protect the nation from a double threat this winter.

The flu vaccination is the best protection for you and those around you which is why it is offered for free for those most at risk. And this year, the programme has been expanded and the free flu vaccine will be offered to a record number of 30 million people to help protect as many as possible from flu and ease pressure on the NHS and urgent care services.

As part of England’s biggest ever flu campaign – alongside adverts across the media and posters in key locations such as GP surgeries, pharmacies and hospitals – eligible people will receive additional direct reminders prompting them to book their appointment, supporting the hard work of local GP practices and pharmacies in driving uptake among their registered eligible patients.

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Visit www.nhs.uk/fluvaccine for more information.

Who’s eligible for a free vaccine?


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Anyone with a long term health condition

Flu is a highly infectious disease and can lead to serious complications if you have an underlying health condition (such as COPD, bronchitis, emphysema), diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease or a chronic neurological disease (like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy) Immunosuppressed, morbidly obese or have problems with your spleen. Flu on top of health conditions like these increases your chance of serious health complications and a hospital visit.

There are approximately 7.1 million people under the age of 65 years old with a long-term health condition.

An average of 11,000 deaths occur annually due to flu-related complications. Of these deaths, many were in people with underlying conditions.

Chronic liver disease can affect the immune system and therefore people with this condition may be less able to fight off flu. Those with chronic liver disease are approximately 48 times more likely to die if they develop flu than individuals who have no other underlying health condition.

Chronic respiratory diseases make people more susceptible to the flu virus damaging their lungs. They are seven times more likely to die from flu than individuals without an underlying health condition

Long term conditions include:

  • chronic (long-term) respiratory disease, such as asthma (needing steroid inhaler or tablets) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis
  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
  • chronic kidney disease at stage three, four or five
  • chronic liver disease
  • chronic neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease,
  • learning disability
  • diabetes
  • splenic dysfunction or asplenia
  • a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment)
  • morbidly obese (defined as BMI of 40 and above)


Adults aged 65 years and over

The flu vaccination continues to be available to adults aged 65 years old and over, who are more vulnerable and may suffer more than most people if they catch flu. This season it is recommended that they receive the trivalent ‘adjuvanted’ influenza vaccine (aTIV) which boosts the immune response in older people. A second vaccine, which is manufactured using cells rather than eggs, will be offered if aTIV is not is available.

Children aged 2-11 years old

Flu can be nasty for little children. Children also tend to be super-spreaders of flu, so if they get it they are likely to infect other vulnerable or older family members. Children who get flu have the same symptoms as adults – including fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and sore throat. Some children develop a very high fever or complications of flu, such as bronchitis or pneumonia and may need hospital treatment. The flu vaccine will help protect your child from flu and reduce the chance of it spreading on to others. For most children, the flu vaccine is not usually an injection, just a quick and easy nasal spray. Children aged 2 and 3 (on 31 August 2020) receive the vaccine through their GP and those aged 4-11 years old receive it in school. If you have a child who is of the eligible age, make sure you sign the consent form allowing them to have the flu vaccine at school.

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Pregnant women

Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system and as a result flu can cause serious complications for women and their babies. One of the most common complications of flu is bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia. If women have flu while they’re pregnant, it could mean their baby is born prematurely or has a low birthweight which could even lead to stillbirth or death. Pregnant women may be less able to fight off infections, increasing the risk of becoming ill from flu. The flu jab is the safest way to help protect pregnant women and their babies against flu, no matter how many months pregnant or how fit and healthy the woman may feel.

The vaccine is inactivated and cannot cause flu itself.

It is safe to have the vaccine at any stage during the pregnancy.

Household contacts of those on the NHS shielded patients list for COVID-19

Flu can easily spread (even if you are not showing symptoms) to those around you who are vulnerable. The free flu vaccine is the very best protection for those are most at risk from flu.

If you live with someone on the NHS shielded patient list, the free flu vaccine is the best protection. Ask your pharmacist or GP if you are eligible.

Those in receipt of a carers allowance, or who are the main carer of an older or diasabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill

Flu can easily spread (even if you are not showing symptoms) to those around you who are vulnerable and for whom you have caring responsibilities. The free flu vaccine is the very best protection for those are most at risk from flu.

If you are in receipt of a carer’s allowance or are the main carer of an older or disabled person you are eligible for the free flu vaccination. Ask your pharmacist or GP.


In addition to the groups above the vaccine is also free for:

  • Close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
  • People living in long-stay residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities
  • All frontline health and social care workers.
  • Hospice workers and health and social care staff employed by registered residential or domiciliary care providers can receive the vaccine from their GP or pharmacist, as can those employed through Direct Payments and/or Personal Health Budgets.
  • There will be a phased extension later in the season, to offer free flu vaccine to 50-64s after existing groups have been prioritised

Ask your pharmacist or GP if you’re eligible for a free flu vaccine. If your child is at school and aged 4-11-year-old make sure you sign and return the consent form.

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