Flu vaccination during the Covid-19 lockdown

Free flu vaccines are available for high-risk groups during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Here’s why it’s important and some advice on how to get the vaccine safely.

Doctors are asking anyone over the age of 65, or in other high-risk groups under 65 years, children 6 months to 11 years age and pregnant women to get their 2020 flu shot. Although it won’t prevent against getting Covid-19, it will protect you against the flu giving you the best possible chance of staying well during winter.

What is the flu vaccine and how does it work?

The flu vaccination is an injection given to people to reduce their risk of getting the flu.

It contains strains of the flu virus that have been destroyed. This means they no longer live and are unable to cause disease. When the vaccination is given, the body detects the strains of the flu virus and responds by making antibodies to destroy them.

If a person comes into contact with the virus after the flu shot, the immune system will recognise the virus and antibodies will destroy it before you get sick.

The influenza strains included in the 2020 influenza vaccines are:

  • A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus
  • A/South Australia/34/2019 (H3N2)-like virus
  • B/Washington/02/2019-like virus
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus

There is currently no vaccine for the protection against Covid-19.

Who can get a free flu jab?

the flu jab is free for anyone who is more at risk of getting flu or more likely to get serious complications from it.

Advised if you are over 65 years age

Under 65 years age with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, asthma or other chronic respiratory conditions, diabetics, renal disease or immunocompromised.

All children from aged 6 months to 11 years age.

Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy

How do I arrange a flu jab?

We have started to get our government supplies in already and stock is getting replenished when it becomes available every fortnight.

We do have some private stock on the way.

You should:

  • Phone ahead to make an appointment
  • Find out about any infection control measures to follow during your visit
  • Stay 1.5 metres away from anyone other than the healthcare professional giving the vaccination
  • Maintain good hygiene practices at all time.

When should I get vaccinated?

People in a high-risk group should get vaccinated as soon as possible.

The 2020 flu shots are already available for people in high risk groups.

How long will it take for the vaccination to work?

It takes up to two weeks for the vaccination to work. If people come into contact with the virus before then, they won’t be protected against it.

Is the flu vaccine 100% effective?

Unfortunately, the flu vaccine doesn’t guarantee people won’t get the flu, but it does significantly reduce the chances of getting it.

Can the vaccine give you the flu?

No. You can’t get the flu from the vaccine because it doesn’t contain any live viruses. Sometimes people may experience mild reactions such as muscle pains and headaches after the vaccination, but this isn’t the flu.

Can you get a reaction from the flu vaccination?

Most people don’t suffer any unpleasant or dangerous reactions to the flu jab.

The most common reaction is pain and redness from the needle. Sometimes the vaccination also causes side effects such as headaches, muscle aches or fever. These should only last a few days.

On very rare occasions people can suffer a severe allergic reaction. Studies have estimated the risk at less than two in a million.

You will be asked to wait for about 20 minutes at the clinic after your vaccination, to make sure you don’t have a severe allergic reaction.

What is the best way to protect against flu?

The best way to reduce the risk of getting the flu is to get a flu vaccination.

Other things you can do are:

  • Wash your hands regularly (wash hands and wrists with soap and water for 20 seconds).
  • People with a fever of 38 degrees centigrade or above should avoid vaccination and reschedule the appointment with the doctor.
  • Maintain general health by taking any prescribed medications, eating and sleeping well and doing regular exercise. These actions help to keep your immune system strong.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t have a flu vaccination?

  • Children under six months of age are too young to be vaccinated.
  • People with a fever of 38 degrees centigrade or above should avoid vaccination and reschedule the appointment with the doctor.

• The flu vaccine should not be given to some patients who are having certain cancer treatments.

It is also important to talk to your health professional beforehand if you:

  • have previously had Guillain-Barre syndrome.
  • had an allergic reaction to a previous vaccination.

How often do I need to get vaccinated?

You need to get your flu vaccination yearly, at the start of every flu season.

The vaccine is developed each year to protect you against the most common influenza strains.

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