Flu Vaccination

Free NHS flu vaccination is available every year to people at risk of becoming very ill with flu and those who care for them, to protect against flu and its complications.

Flu can be unpleasant, but if you are otherwise healthy it will usually clear up on its own within a week. However, flu can be serious for some people, and every year flu killsWe 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 is an important part of that protection

Flu is likely to be more severe in certain people, such as:

  • anyone aged 65 and over
  • pregnant women
  • children and adults with a long-term health condition (particularly long-term heart, liver, kidney or respiratory disease)
  • children and adults with weakened immune systems
  • anyone who has had stroke or a mini stroke

People in these risk groups are more likely to develop serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia (a lung infection), so it's recommended (if they are aged 6 months or over) that they have a flu vaccine every year to protect them.

The annual flu vaccine is free on the NHS  to:

  • people aged 6 months and over who are at risk of complications from flu
  • people with a learning disability
  • adults with a higher body weight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more)
  • those on the NHS shielded patient list and their household contacts
  • everyone aged 65 and over
  • Carers  
  • Care home staff with regular client contact.
  • People working as a carer giving care in people’s homes

For those aged 18 and above the flu vaccine is an injection. For those aged 2 to 17 it is a nasal spray (add link to children’s page)

The annual nasal flu spray vaccination is available to all children aged two and three years (age on 31st August 2020), plus all children in primary school (reception class to school year 6) as part of the routine NHS childhood vaccination programme

Find out more about who should have the flu vaccine.

How effective is the flu vaccine?

Flu vaccine is one of the best ways to protect against flu.

Every year the World Health Organization (WHO) predict what strains of flu will be circulating the following winter. Most years it is well matched and there is good protection.

Protection against this unpredictable virus is important as it can cause unpleasant illness in children and sometimes severe illness and even death, this is most likely among at-risk groups, including older people, pregnant women and those with an underlying health condition.

A flu vaccine won't stop all flu viruses and the level of protection may vary between years, and between people, so it's not a 100% guarantee that you'll be flu-free, but if you do get flu after vaccination it's likely to be milder and shorter-lived than it would otherwise have been.

It’s important to have the vaccine every year as over time, the protection from flu decreases and flu strains often change. So new flu vaccines are produced each year, and people are advised to have the flu vaccine every year for best protection.

Flu vaccine side effects

Serious side effects from flu vaccines are very rare.  Read more about the side effects of the flu vaccine.

A mild fever following a flu vaccine is a common and expected reaction, isolation and COVID-19 testing is not usually required unless COVID-19 is suspected. Any fever after vaccination should be monitored and if you are concerned about your health at any time please seek advice from your GP or NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 or NHS 111 Wales if available in your area.

When to have a flu vaccine

The best time to have a flu vaccine is before flu starts to circulate. Ideally this is in the autumn, from the beginning of October, but don't worry if you've missed it, you can still have the vaccine later in winter if there are stocks left. Ask at your GP surgery or community pharmacy.

The flu vaccine for 2020/21

Each year, the viruses that are most likely to cause flu are identified in advance and vaccines are made to match them as closely as possible. The vaccines are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). All flu vaccines contain 3 or 4 strains.

There are a number of different flu vaccines available again this season. With some working better than others in different age groups, they are broadly recommended by age:

2020-21 -  Flu vaccines routinely recommended in NHS Wales

Age of eligible individual






Under  2 years of age






2-8 years of age






9-17 years of age






18-64 years of age






Aged 65 or over






*Some QIVe are not licensed for younger children

**The available limited evidence supports a preference for QIVc over QIVe in this age group















  • LAIV: Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (quadrivalent). Brand name: Fluenz® Tetra
  • QIVe: Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine (egg based). Numerous brand names
  • QIVc: Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine (cell based). Brand name: Flucelvax Tetra®
  • aTIV: Adjuvanted Trivalent Influenza Vaccine. Brand name: Fluad®
  • TIVHD: High Dose Trivalent Influenza Vaccine. Brand name: Trivalent Influenza Vaccine (Split Virion)

A number of different influenza (flu) vaccines will be available in 2020/21, and are recommended according to age:

Is there anyone who shouldn't have a flu vaccine?

Most people can have a flu vaccine, read more about who shouldn't have the flu vaccine.

You can find out more by reading the answers to the most common questions that people have about the flu

For more information visit



Click here to see all vaccination leaflets.

Last Updated: 11/11/2019 13:20:52
The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website