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Who should have the flu vaccine?

Who should have a flu vaccine?

For most people, flu is an unpleasant illness, but for some people it can be serious. If you are otherwise healthy, you will usually recover from flu within a week. However, certain people are more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. These people (and those who care for them) are advised to have a flu vaccine each year to help protect them.

We expect to see flu and COVID-19 both circulating this winter so we all need to do what we can to protect ourselves and our families, and having a flu vaccine if you are eligible is an important part of that protection.

People who should have a flu vaccine

Free flu vaccine is offered on the NHS to people who are most at risk of developing complications if they catch flu. This is to help protect them against catching flu and developing serious complications. Some people are recommended to have a flu vaccine to reduce the risk of them spreading flu to others, such as carers.

You are eligible to receive a free flu vaccine if you:

  • aged 6 months and over with a long-term health condition that puts you at increased risk from flu
  • pregnant
  • have a learning disability
  • have severe mental illness
  • are aged 16 or above with a higher body weight (body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more)
  • have weakened immunity (immunosuppressed) due to treatment or disease (such as steroid or cancer treatment)
  • a close contact of someone with a weakened immunity (immunosuppressed)
  • living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
  • aged 50 and over (on 31st March 2023)
  • a carer 
  • care home staff with regular client contact.
  • working as a carer giving care in people’s homes
  • are homeless
  • a child aged 2 or 3 (age on 31 August 2022)  
  • a pupil in school years reception to 11

Aged 50 and overs and the flu vaccine

You are eligible for the flu vaccine this year if you are aged 50 or over on 31 March 2023. So, if you are currently 49 but will be 50 on 31 March 2023, you do qualify.

Pregnant women and the flu vaccine

If you're pregnant, it is important you have a flu vaccine, regardless of the stage of pregnancy you are. That's because there's strong evidence to suggest pregnant women have an increased risk of developing complications if they get flu.

Having a flu vaccine when pregnant will help:

  • reduce your chance of getting serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia,
  • reduce your risk of having a miscarriage, or your baby being born prematurely or with a low birth weight
  • protect your baby as they will continue to have some immunity to flu for the first few months of their life

You should have a flu injection. It's safe to have the flu vaccine at any stage of pregnancy from conception onwards. Talk to your GP or midwife if you have any questions about the vaccination.

Read more about the flu vaccine in pregnancy.

Flu vaccine for people with medical conditions

Annual flu vaccine is free on the NHS to people from 6 months of age with a long-term health condition. That includes these types of illnesses:

  • chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as moderate to severe asthma (which requires an inhaled or tablet steroid treatment, or has led to hospital admission in the past), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or bronchitis
  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
  • chronic kidney disease (from stage 3)
  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis 
  • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's disease or motor neurone disease, or a stroke or mini stroke
  • diabetes
  • problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
  • a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medication such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
  • epilepsy
  • severe mental illness

People with a learning disability are also eligible for free flu vaccine.

Your GP may recommend that you have the flu vaccine for another medical reason. Your GP can assess if you may be at risk from serious illness from flu.

If you live with someone who has a weakened immune system, you may also be advised to have a flu vaccine to help protect them. Speak to your GP surgery or pharmacist about this.

Flu vaccine if you're very overweight

Annual flu vaccine is recommended for anyone aged 16 or over who is very overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more.

Read more about BMI and how to check it.

Flu vaccine for children

The flu vaccine is recommended for:

  • children six months and over with a long-term health condition that puts them at increased risk from flu
  • children aged two and three years (age on 31 August 2022)
  • children in primary school (reception class to school year 6).
  • children in secondary school up to year 11.

Children aged between six months and under two years of age who are eligible for the flu vaccine should have a flu vaccine injection.

Children eligible for the flu vaccine aged between two and 17 will usually have the nasal spray flu vaccine.

Read about who should have the children's flu vaccine.

Flu vaccine for health and social care workers

Outbreaks of flu can occur in health and social care settings, and, because flu spreads easily, staff, patients and residents are all at risk of infection. We expect to see flu and COVID-19 both circulating this winter and an important part of protecting people is high flu vaccination uptake in health and social care staff.

Healthcare staff

If you are a front-line healthcare worker, you are recommended to have a flu vaccine to protect yourself, your colleagues and the patients in your care. It is your employer's responsibility to arrange vaccination for you.

Flu vaccine for care home staff

Staff in adult care homes or children’s hospices who have regular contact with residents should get a flu vaccine to protect them, the care home residents and reduce the spread of flu. You can have a free NHS flu vaccine at many community pharmacies.


If you care for someone whose health or welfare may be at risk if you fall ill, speak to your GP surgery or community pharmacist about having a flu vaccine. Even if you don’t live with the person you care for you may still be eligible for a free vaccine.

If you work as a carer delivering care to people in their own home you can have a free NHS flu vaccine at many community pharmacies

Read more about the flu vaccine for carers on the Carers UK website.

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Last Updated: 17/02/2022 16:09:30
The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website