Last date you should get your flu jab for protection ahead of Christmas

Britons eligible for a free NHS flu vaccine, including those over the age of 65, are being urged to get a flu vaccination by November 17 to help protect themselves, their loved ones and the NHS before the festive season begins in December.

Flu can make people feel very unwell and may pose a serious risk to those considered to be vulnerable, which includes those groups who are eligible for a free NHS flu jab.

The message comes from Claire Nevinson, superintendent pharmacist at Boots. She said: “It’s a good idea to plan ahead and ensure you have your flu jab as early as possible to help protect yourself from flu and reduce the risk of passing the virus to others this winter.

“The flu vaccination stimulates an immune system response by producing antibodies against the virus. It typically takes between 10 and 14 days after having the flu jab for the body to develop enough antibodies to provide protection.

“Therefore, I recommend all those eligible for a free NHS flu jab to get theirs by 17 November 2023 to allow enough time for protection to start from the beginning of December, when the socialising and festive activities typically start to take place.”

Claire continued: “It is particularly important for those over the age of 65, who might be socialising more than they usually would with family visiting over Christmas.

“People in this age bracket are also considered more likely to develop potentially serious complications from flu.

“If you can’t get the jab before November 17, please don’t worry, just try to make sure you get vaccinated as early as you can. Having the flu jab doesn’t guarantee you won’t get flu, but if you do, it’s likely to be milder and not last as long.”

The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to adults who:

  • are 65 and over (including those who will be 65 by 31 March 2024)
  • have certain health conditions
  • are pregnant
  • are in long-stay residential care
  • receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system, such as someone living with HIV, someone who has had a transplant, or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis

Boots offers the free NHS flu jab at most of its stores. To find out more and book a flu jab, visit boots.com/flu. But you can also do the following:

  • contact your GP surgery to book an appointment
  • find a pharmacy that offers NHS flu vaccination (if you’re aged 18 or over)
  • book a flu vaccination appointment online or in the NHS App (if you’re aged 18 or over)

The NHS advises: “Having a flu vaccine may help stop you spreading flu to other people who could be more at risk of serious problems from flu.

“It can take 10 to 14 days for the flu vaccine to work.”

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