Adult Flu Vaccine

Adult Flu Vaccine

Flu can be unpleasant, and specifically severe in certain people deemed to be at risk. The flu vaccine is offered annually by the GHA to help protect adults and children at risk of flu and its complications.

When am I most at risk from flu?

Flu circulates every winter, generally peaking in December and January; when many people get ill around the same time. The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, from the beginning of October to the end of November. But if you miss it you can always request to have one after this time frame.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is routinely offered to adults:

  • aged 65 and over
  • people with certain medical conditions 
  • pregnant women
  • frontline health or social care workers
  • are living in a long-stay residential care home
  • who are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person

Which type of flu vaccine should I have?

There are several types of flu vaccine. You will be offered the one that is most effective for your age:

  • adults aged 18 to 64 who are either pregnant, or at increased risk from flu because of a long-term health condition, are offered a quadrivalent injected vaccine – this means that the vaccine will have been grown either in eggs or cells (QIVe or QIVc), which are considered to be equally suitable
  • adults aged 65 and over will be offered either an adjuvanted trivalent injected vaccine grown in eggs (aTIV) or a cell-grown quadrivalent injected vaccine (QIVc) – both vaccines are considered to be equally suitable.

How long does the flu vaccine take to become effective?

It takes between 10 and 14 days for your immune system to respond fully after you have had the flu vaccine.

Where can I get my flu vaccine?

You can have your GHA flu vaccine at:

  • The Primary Care Centre
  • From the district nurse who visits you at home
  • A local pharmacy that offers the service
  • Your antenatal appointment if you are pregnant

How effective is the flu vaccine?

Flu vaccine is the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus that can cause unpleasant illness in children and severe illness and death among at-risk groups. Studies have shown that the flu vaccine will help prevent you getting the flu.

The vaccine, however will not stop all flu viruses and the level of protection may vary. If you do get flu after vaccination, it’s likely to be milder and shorter-lived than it would otherwise have been.

Over time, protection from the injected flu vaccine gradually decreases, and flu strains often change.

How often do I need the flu vaccine?

The viruses that because flu can change every year, which means the flu (and the vaccine) this winter may be different from last winter. New flu vaccines are produced each year, so people are advised to have one every year, too.

How safe is the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccines used in the national programme have a good safety record and serious side effects of the injected flu vaccine are very rare. 

You may have a mild fever and aching muscles for a couple of days after having the vaccine, and your arm may be a bit sore at the site of the injection.

It is rare for anyone to have a serious allergic reaction to a vaccination. The person who vaccinates you is trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.

Can the flu vaccine cause flu?

No. The injected flu vaccine cannot cause flu because there are no active viruses in the vaccine.

I have an egg allergy. Can I take the flu vaccination?

Some flu vaccines are made using eggs, therefore people who have an egg allergy may be at increased risk of having a reaction to the injectable vaccine. There are some flu vaccines that are egg-free, but if they are not available to you, your GP may decide to refer you to a specialist to have the vaccination in hospital.

Can I have the flu vaccine while I am taking antibiotics?

Yes, it is fine to have the flu vaccine while you are taking a course of antibiotics, provided you do not have a high temperature.

Is it OK to have the flu vaccine during pregnancy?

Yes. In fact, it is important to get the flu vaccine if you are pregnant as it helps protect the mother-to-be and her new-born baby from catching flu.

Can I have a flu vaccine if I am breastfeeding?

Yes. The vaccine is safe for breastfeeding mother, baby and pregnant women.

Who should not have the flu vaccine?

You should not have the flu vaccine if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a flu vaccine or 1 of its ingredients.  You also need to take precautions if you have an egg allergy.