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Where can I get a flu jab near me? It's the question everyone is asking this week as we're set to have a full season of winter flu.
Tissues stuffed into coat pockets, strangers stifling coughs on public transport and supermarkets selling out of cold & flu medicine, the signs of a slightly more 'normal' festive period are definitely here. Even though Covid-19 is definitely still with us and health officials urging those eligible to book a booster jab (opens in new tab), the chance that it's just a standard flu virus is higher than it's been in years. With no lockdowns or social distancing regulations in place anymore and as many people have stopped wearing face coverings (opens in new tab), we're not protected from catching viruses like we have been.
Luckily, the NHS is targeting more people with their flu vaccination programme to combat the double risk of coronavirus and flu. But despite this, reportedly 1 in 5 people still don't know whether or not they're eligible for a vaccine. And this uncertainty is putting a potential 7 million patients at risk of missing their jab, according to data from myGP. So to make sure you're not one of them, this is what you need to know about the flu vaccine in 2021.
Where can I get a flu jab near me?
The best way to find a local flu vaccination clinic is through the NHS' flu vaccine service website (opens in new tab).
Simply enter your postcode into the search bar and the database will offer you one, if not several, different centres where you can get the flu vaccine. Listed in order of distance from your postcode, they're all in your local area. This is a booking system to the coronavirus vaccine one, which people used to see if they could get their second Covid-19 vaccine early (opens in new tab).
But not everyone will be eligible for a flu vaccine from their local pharmacy.
Those who can get a flu vaccine from a pharmacy include:
- People 50-years-old or over (including those turning 50 by March 31 2022)
- People with certain medical conditions that put them more at risk if they catch a flu virus
- Those who are pregnant
- Frontline adult social care workers who are unable to get a vaccination from their employer
Health and social care workers who have been given a voucher to have the jab will be able to utilise this at a pharmacy that offers the service. But not all pharmacies do, so be sure to check whether your local pharmacy will take the voucher before booking an appointment.
Children under 18 years old won't be able to get the flu vaccine at a pharmacy. Instead, they'll be able to get it from their GP or at school, similarly to how 12 - 15 year olds can now get the Covid-19 vaccine (opens in new tab) at school.
Can I get a free flu jab?
You can get a free flu jab if you or the person you're booking for are one of the following:
- A child aged between two and three-years-old on August 31 2021
- A child in primary school or in secondary school and under the age of 16 on August 31 2021
- In a clinical risk group (opens in new tab) and aged between six months and 50-years-old
- Over 50-years-old
- In residential care
- An unpaid carer
- A close contact of someone with a weakened immune system
- Working in health and social care
Anyone working in a Care Quality Commission care home must have a double Covid-19 vaccine unless they are exempt. This is a new requirement in England, put into place to prevent cases during flu season.
Can anyone get the flu jab?
Yes, anyone over the age of 12 can get the flu jab even if they can't get a free vaccination.
However, you can also book yourself in for a flu vaccination at an independent pharmacy via Patient Access (opens in new tab) for roundabout the same price or possibly even cheaper.
Should I get the flu jab?
If you don't meet criteria for a free flu vaccination, you might think you don't need a jab. But yes, according to health experts, everyone who can should get a flu vaccination this year.
By now, we've all heard of herd immunity. It's a type of indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when enough people are immune, whether from vaccination or previous infection, that the likelihood of non-immune individuals getting the disease reduces dramatically.
With the risk of death doubling (opens in new tab) when someone catches flu and coronavirus at the same time, according to a study published last year, health experts have warned that it's actually incredible important to get the jab in 2021.
Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tam says, "Not many people got flu last year because of COVID-19 restrictions, so there isn’t as much natural immunity in our communities as usual. We will see flu circulate this winter; it might be higher than usual and that makes it a significant public health concern.
"COVID-19 will still be circulating and with more people mixing indoors, sadly some increases are possible. For the first time we will have COVID-19 and flu co-circulating. We need to take this seriously and defend ourselves and the NHS by getting the annual flu jab and the COVID-19 booster when called.
He adds, "Both these viruses are serious: they can both spread easily, cause hospitalisation and they can both be fatal. It is really important that people get their vaccines as soon as they can."
Dr Yasmin Razak, GP Partner at Golborne Medical and Medical Advisor to myGP (opens in new tab), also points out that it's not only beneficial to you personally - but also to others around you. "I’m urging people not to be complacent and gamble their health," she says. "It’s likely someone you know has only avoided a hospital stay or worse thanks to a flu vaccination. While there is annual data on those who have died from the flu, countless people will have averted a similar fate because they, and those around them, received their annual jab."
She adds, "Full population coverage is needed to protect the most vulnerable groups in our society. The most effective way to achieve this is by getting vaccinated."
Who shouldn't have the flu vaccine?
People who should not get the flu vaccine include:
- Those who have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past.
- Any child under six months old as they are too young.
- Anyone who is ill with a high temperature should wait until they are better to have the flu vaccine.
According to the NHS (opens in new tab), most adults can have the flu vaccine.
If you do have concerns about whether or not it's suitable for you contact your GP. Alternatively, visit your local pharmacy as they will be able to offer more personal guidance.
Grace Walsh is a Features Writer for Goodto.com, covering breaking news health stories during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as lifestyle and entertainment topics. She has worked in media since graduating from the University of Warwick in 2019 with a degree in Classical Civilisation and a year spent abroad in Italy. It was here that Grace caught the bug for journalism, after becoming involved in the university’s student newspaper and radio station.
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