Each year the flu kills on average 11,000 people and hospitalises thousands more. Getting the flu vaccine ensures the best protection for you and those around you. It’s available for free to those most at risk.
On this page you'll find flu mythbusters which address common misconceptions about the flu vaccine, and resources that give you the information you need to protect yourself and those around you against flu this winter.
Book your flu jab
If you are eligable for a free flu vacciantion this winter (see table below) look out for your NHS invite or contact your local pharmacy or your GP practice.
You do not need to be registered with the NHS to have a flu vaccination.
Who should get a flu vaccination this winter?
It is important that you have the right information when making any descision about taking a new medicine or vaccination. False information can lead to some not being able to make an informed choice.
Below we have provided the correct information from the NHS for some common myths about the flu vaccination.
False claim: The flu jab is not halal
Mythbuster #1: The flu jab does not contain any pork ingredient or gelatine. Only the flu nasal spray for children includes porcine gelatin. The British Fatwa council has permitted the use of the nasal spray in children. You can also ask your GP for an alternative flu vaccine for your child if you do not want them to have the nasal spray.
False claim: The flu nasal spray can make your child unwell
Mythbuster #2: The children's nasal spray may cause a runny or blocked nose, headache, tiredness and some loss of appetite. But these symptoms usually end within 2 days and are far less serious than the effects of contracting flu.
False claim: The flu is not serious for children so it’s best to let them catch it
Mythbuster #3: Flu in children can be serious - it can lead to high fever, painful ear infections, acute bronchitis, pneumonia and even hospitalisation. Give your child the free flu vaccine to help protect them and vulnerable family and friends.
False claim: The nasal flu spray can give your child autism
Mythbuster #4: The nasal flu spray will definitely not give your child autism. The claims that the MMR vaccine causes autism have been discredited many times and there is absolutely no link between the nasal flu spray and autism.
False claim: The nasal flu spray can give your child Covid
Mythbuster #5: The nasal flu spray has been used for many years and does not contain SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19. The nasal flu spray will definitely not give your child Covid-19.
False claim: The flu jab gives you serious side effects
Mythbuster #6: Only 1 in a million people get serious side effects from the flu jab. Mild side effects are more common, but far less serious than the possible effects of flu which can cause serious illness or death. The flu jab is the best protection for you and those around you.
False claim: The flu vaccine will give you the flu
Mythbuster #7: You cannot catch the flu from the flu vaccine. The vaccine contains an inactivated virus which cannot give you flu. It may cause mild side effects such as soreness or aching muscles, a mild fever or feeling unwell, shivery, achy and tired. These are far less serious than the risks of catching the flu.
False claim: The flu vaccine will make you test positive for Covid-19
Mythbuster #8: The flu jab will not make you test positive for coronavirus. The COVID-19 test looks for the specific genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Flu viruses have a very different genetic sequence. The flu vaccine can definitely not affect the result of the COVID-19 test.
False claim: It’s not safe to get my flu jab at the NHS
Mythbuster #9: The NHS has taken every precaution to protect you and put robust plans in place to provide flu jabs in a COVID-safe way. If you are invited for a flu jab appointment, it's important you attend. If you are eligible for a flu vaccine and have not heard from the NHS, please ask your GP practice.
False claim: The flu vaccine itself is not safe
Mythbuster #10: The flu vaccination is safe and effective and must be given annually. It cannot give you the flu. It does not protect you from COVID-19, but it does protect against the strains of flu that will circulate this year.
False claim: The flu vaccine comes with a microchip implant
Mythbuster #11: An edited video has been shared on social media showing people being implanted with a microchip. This video was about an American company which offered its staff a microchip implant in their finger to buy snacks or use computers and photocopiers. This was not a video of a flu jab and the flu jab does not contain microchips.
False claim: The flu shot contains Covid-19
Mythbuster #12: Recent posts on social media claiming that the flu vaccine contains COVID-19 are false. The flu vaccine has been used for many years and does not contain SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19.
False claim: Flu can be treated with antibiotics
Mythbuster #13: Viruses cause flu. Antibiotics only work against bacteria. A bacterial infection may occur because of having the flu, in which case you may be given antibiotics to treat that infection, this will not protect against the flu.
False claim: You do not need to get the flu jab every year
Mythbuster #14: The viruses that cause flu changes (mutates), so you need vaccination that matches the new viruses each year.
False claim: I have had the flu so it is too late to be vaccinated
Mythbuster #15: As flu is caused by several viruses, the immunity you naturally developed will only protect you against one of them. You could go on to catch another strain.
False claim: Healthy people do not need to be vaccinated
Mythbuster #17: While it is especially important for people who have a long-term condition or chronic illness to get the flu jab, everyone benefits from being vaccinated. In addition, it is free if you are 65 and over and as we age, our natural immunity weakens increasing vulnerability to the flu virus
False claim: Getting the flu jab is all you need to protect yourself
Mythbuster #18: Do not forget to wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and try to avoid contact with people who have the flu. This is particularly important in the context of Covid -19.
This leaflet explains how you can help protect yourself and your children against flu this coming winter, and why it’s very important that people who are at increased risk from flu have their free vaccination every year.
The leaflet: The flu vaccination: who should have it and why, is available in the following languages:
Information for parents and carers of pre-school children
This leaflet provides information for parents and carers of preschool and primary school-aged children, including why you should get your child vaccinated and how the vaccine will be given.
Information for parents and carers primary school aged children and year 7
This leaflet is for parents, guardians and carers of primary school and Year 7 secondary school-aged children. It explains which children are eligible for a flu vaccination, as well as describing the disease and the nasal flu vaccine. It is intended for children, parents or guardians/carers and should be accompanied by a consent form.
This leaflet 'how to help protect you and your baby' describes the vaccinations that help protect you and your baby during and after pregnancy - including the flu vaccination.
English verion's 'how to help protect you and your baby'
Translated versions of the leaflet:
The best way to avoid getting flu is to have a flu vaccine.
Below are resources explaining how and why you should get the vaccine this winter.