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Flu and COVID Vaccinations

The 2023 flu and COVID season is well underway. Flu vaccinations started on 11th September 2023. We are contacting our patients to arrange your flu vaccination appointment. Demand for flu and COVID-19 vaccinations is high.

If you are eligible for a COVID booster, we will also offer this at the same appointment where possible.

We are offering mid-week flu / COVID vaccination appointments. Please book via you text message invite, our online services or give us a call to book.

You can book via the link in the text message we will send you (if you have a smart phone) or you can book online via our online services (SystmOnline or NHS App) or you can call us on 02392 009 191 after 11am and select Option 2.

Patients can attend any of the above sites for their vaccination. Please make sure you book ahead of time to secure your vaccination.

Where stock is available, we will be offering COVID vaccinations (to eligible patients) at the same appointment as your flu jab. If we are unable to offer you a COVID vaccination during your flu appointment, we will invite you for a COVID booster as soon as stock is available.

Flu Vaccination Information

Flu Jabs protect you from influenza and the resulting complications. However, did you know that last year the income received by the practice from a flu administration would have covered a full time salaried GP for a year? A full time salaried GP offers over 160 appointments a week!

We work fast and are practised in vaccinating you, informing you of updates required and gathering data so this does not take long. This saves all of us a lot of additional work and crucially, also saves on valuable appointments.

We will also advise you at the same time if you are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID or other viruses such as shingles or pneumonia.

And finally, we also check if you are overdue a review for areas such as your blood pressure, medication, asthma, diabetes etc.

The surgery purchases flu vaccines on your behalf so please have your vaccine with us. 

Which vaccination should I have?

In 2023/24 there are three different types of influenza vaccine available:

  • Quadrivalent flu vaccine – This has been specifically developed for patients aged between 18 to 64 years old that have a long-term condition. (“At-Risk” patients).
  • aQIV flu vaccine – This has been specifically developed for patients aged 65 and over.
  • Nasal Flu – This has been specifically developed for patients aged from 6 months to 17 years of age. 

Should I get the Flu Vaccination?

Yes. Flu is highly contagious.

Certain people are at greater risk of developing serious complications of flu, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. These conditions may require hospital treatment.

The flu vaccine is offered free to people who are at risk, to protect them from catching flu and developing serious complications.

It is very important that as many patients as possible are vaccinated in 2023/24 to help reduce the burden on the NHS whilst we continue to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Who is eligible for the flu vaccination?

It is recommended that you have a flu jab if you fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • In the ‘at risk’ group – please see the ‘People with long term medical conditions’ section below
  • all pregnant women  (including those women who become pregnant during the flu season)
  • all those aged two and three years old (but not four years or older) on 31st August 2023 
  • all school-aged children who are part of the childhood programme 
  • have a serious medical condition (see below)
  • are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility (not including prisons, young offender institutions or university halls of residence)
  • are a carer of a friend or relative
  • Obesity (patients with a BMI greater than or equal to 40)

Patients aged 50-64 years that are not in an ‘At-Risk group’ are NOT eligible for a free flu vaccination this year. If this guidance changes, we will contact you.

If you are the parent of a child who is over six months old and has a long-term condition on the list below, speak to your GP about the flu vaccine. Your child’s condition may get worse if they catch flu.

Pregnant women

It is recommended that all pregnant women should have the flu vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy they’re in.

This is because there is good evidence that pregnant women have an increased risk of developing complications if they get flu, particularly from the H1N1 strain.

Studies have shown that the flu vaccine can be safely and effectively given during any trimester of pregnancy. The vaccine does not carry risks for either the mother or baby. In fact, studies have shown that mothers who have had the vaccine while pregnant pass some protection to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.

People with long term medical conditions

The flu vaccine is offered free to anyone who is over six months of age and has one of the following medical conditions:

If you live with someone who has a weakened immune system, you may also be able to have a flu vaccine. Speak to your GP about this.


An annual nasal spray flu vaccine is now offered to all children aged two and three as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme. It will also be offered to children aged 2-18 with long-term health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease. 

Children aged six months to 2 years with long-term health conditions aren’t able to have the nasal spray and will require the injected flu vaccine instead.

Read more information about:

Who should not have the flu vaccination?

You should not have the flu vaccine if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a flu vaccine or one of its ingredients. This happens very rarely.

If you have had a confirmed very serious (anaphylactic) reaction to egg, have an egg allergy with uncontrolled asthma or another type of allergy to egg, your GP may decide that you should be vaccinated with an egg-free vaccine. One such vaccine is available for this flu season (called Preflucel, manufactured by Baxter Healthcare).

If no egg-free vaccine is available, your GP will identify a suitable vaccine with a low egg (ovalbumin) content.

Depending on the severity of your egg allergy, your GP may decide to refer you to a specialist for vaccination in hospital.

If you are ill with a fever, do not have your flu jab until you have recovered.

Is this year’s vaccine safe?

Although no medical procedure is totally free of risk, flu vaccines are generally very safe. The most common reaction to the jab is a sore arm, or you may feel hot for a day or two after the vaccination.

This year’s flu jabs have been tested and approved for use across the UK and in Europe. The jab cannot give you flu because it doesn’t contain any active viruses.

The Department of Health recommends that everyone who is eligible for a flu jab should have it as soon as the vaccine is available.

If you are in an at-risk group and do not have the jab, you will have a greater risk of developing serious complications or even dying if you get flu this winter.

If you haven’t had the flu vaccine and you are in a risk group, make an appointment to get vaccinated.

Find out more about the flu vaccine, including how the vaccine is made and how it protects you.

Will I receive a COVID19 vaccination when I have my flu vaccination? 

Where COVID vaccine stock is available, we will offer you a COVID booster at the same time as your flu jab. If stock is unavailable at the time of your flu jab we will book you in to an appointment for your COVID booster at the closest possible date.

What should I do if I think I have Flu?

If you suspect you have Flu then please read our flu information and advice before you contact the Practice.

In most cases flu can be treated at home and will pass in 7-10 days. Advice can also be sought from your local pharmacist or NHS111

Flu is normally spread within the first 4 days, it is important that if you do suspect that you have Flu that you seek advice first BEFORE coming to the Surgery. Please click the link below for self-help advice about flu.

COVID Vaccinations

We will be running a COVID autumn booster campaign from 11th September. Patients eligible for a COVID booster are as follows:

  • Ages 65 or over
  • In an ‘At-Risk’ Group (See At-Risk groups below)
  • Carers aged 16 to under 65
  • Care Home Residents
  • Frontline Health & Social Care Workers
  • Pregnant

Where stock is available, we will offer patients their COVID booster at the same time as their flu vaccination. This saves patients from having to book two separate appointments and helps us cope with demand at peak times. If stock is unavailable at the time of your flu jab we will book you in to an appointment for your COVID booster at the closest possible date.

At-Risk Patients

At-risk patients are classed as the following:

  • Dysfunction of the spleen
  • BMI greater than 40
  • Immunosuppression
  • Household contact of immunosuppressed patients
  • Severe Mental Illness
  • Learning Disability
  • Diabetes
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Chronic Respiratory Disease (including COPD or Asthma)
  • Chronic Neurological Disease
  • Chronic Liver Disease
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Chronic Heart Disease
  • Addisons

Who is being offered an autumn booster?

COVID-19 is more serious in older people and in people with certain underlying health conditions.

This winter it is expected that many respiratory infections, including COVID-19 and flu may be circulating at high levels – this may put increasing pressure on hospitals and other health care service. For these reasons, people aged 65 years and over and those in care homes will be offered a booster.

A booster will also be offered to front-line health and social care staff, those who care for vulnerable individuals and families of individuals with weakened immune systems.

The autumn booster is being offered to those at high risk of the complications of COVID-19 infection, who may have not been boosted for a few months. As the number of COVID-19 infections increases over the winter, this booster should help to reduce your risk of being admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

Which vaccine will you be offered?

You will be given a booster dose of a vaccine made by Pfizer. You may be offered an updated combination version of the booster vaccine. For a very small number of people another vaccine product may be advised by your doctor.

Please accept the vaccination that is offered to you as soon as you are able to – it is important to have your booster and build up your protection against severe illness before the winter.

Common side effects

As with your previous dose, the common side effects are the same for all COVID-19 vaccines, including the combination vaccines being used this autumn, and include:

  • having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection – this tends to be worst around 1 to 2 days after the vaccine
  • feeling tired
  • headache
  • general aches or mild flu-like symptoms

You can rest and take paracetamol (follow the dose advice in the packaging) to help you feel better.

Although a fever can occur within a day or two of vaccination, if you have any other COVID-19 symptoms or your fever lasts longer, stay at home and you may need to have a test. Symptoms following vaccination normally last less than a week.

If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, you can call NHS 111 or for textphone use 18001 111. You can also report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card scheme.

Serious side effects

Cases of inflammation of the heart (called myocarditis or pericarditis) have been reported very rarely after both the Pfizer, Moderna and Sanofi COVID-19 vaccines. These cases have been seen mostly in younger men and within several days of vaccination. Most of the people affected have felt better and recovered quickly following rest and simple treatments.

You should seek medical advice urgently if, after vaccination, you experience:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart

If you had serious side effects after any previous dose you may be advised to avoid or delay further vaccination. You should discuss this with your doctor or specialist. Please see below for information on how to report side effects.

Reporting side effects

Suspected side effects can be reported to the Yellow Card scheme:

Can you still catch COVID-19 after having the vaccine?

The COVID-19 booster will reduce the chance of you becoming severely unwell from COVID-19 this winter. It may take a few days for your body to build up some extra protection from the booster.

Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective – some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but any infection should be less severe.

If you have not had all your vaccinations

If you have not yet had either of your first 2 doses of the vaccine (or a third dose for those with a weakened immune system) you should have them as soon as possible.

If you are eligible for the autumn booster but think you have missed a previous booster you should still go ahead – you will not need another dose.

If you have a COVID-19 positive result, when can you have your autumn booster?

If you are unwell, wait until you have recovered to have your vaccine. If you have had confirmed COVID-19 you should ideally wait 4 weeks before having your autumn booster. You should not attend a vaccine appointment if you are self-isolating or waiting for a COVID-19 test.

Access to treatments for COVID-19 infection – changes from 27 June 2023

NHS England has written to the majority of patients who are currently eligible for treatments for COVID-19, to inform them the way they access these treatments is changing.

From Tuesday 27 June 2023, eligible patients will be able to self-refer to the COVID Medicines Delivery Unit (CMDU), which provides antiviral medicines to patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and who identify as belonging to the highest risk clinical subgroup.

This includes some patients with cancer, blood conditions, kidney disease, liver disease and auto-immune diseases, among others.

If you are an eligible patient and test positive for COVID-19, please contact the CMDU directly and self-refer by:

Patients will be assessed within 24 hours of referral.

Further information is available online: