Your queries on the flu vaccine answered

This winter it is more vital than ever to get the flu vaccine to help you stay safe and well. Those who are eligible for the free vaccine should book an appointment straight away and also consider your plans for a Covid Booster.

We recently published a survey asking people if they would have their flu vaccine when invited. Although the majority of people said they would, there were others who were hesitant. We put their concerns to Amanda Rimington, former nurse and now one of our Senior Primary Care Commissioning Managers and here is what she had to say.

Covid Booster and flu vaccines – Do I need both?

You said: “I have never had a flu vaccination before. However, I have had both COVID-19 jabs and will definitely have a booster. Isn’t that enough?”

Amanda says: “Flu and Covid are two separate viruses. The vaccination for Covid will not prevent someone from catching the flu and the implications for influenza infection can be very serious.”

Side effects

You said: “I do not take the flu vaccination, it makes me too ill.”

Amanda says: “Side effects of the flu jab vary from person to person but are usually reported as mild. Most adults can have the flu vaccine, but you should avoid it if you have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past. Always seek advice from your GP.”

Having the flu and Covid Booster vaccines at the same time

You said: “I will have my flu vaccine if I can get it at the same time as my COVID booster jab. I don’t like needles so want to have the two together and get it over with.”

Amanda says: “You should be able to have both vaccinations at the same time. Your GP should be able to arrange this for you.”

Vaccine ingredients

You said: “How has this year’s flu vaccination formulation been decided when there was virtually no flu last year to inform the formulation of this year’s vaccine?”

Amanda says: “Although there was less flu circulating last year, countries all around the world monitored and tested flu virus samples from patients, and shared these with the World Health Organisation, enabling recommendations to be made about the vaccine composition for this year.”

Being allergic to the ingredients

You said: “I am egg allergic so I want to know if I can have an egg-free flu vaccine.”

Amanda says: “You may be at risk of an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine injection if you have an egg allergy. This is because some flu vaccines are made using eggs. Ask a GP or pharmacist for a low-egg or egg-free vaccine.”

Number of vaccinations and their side effects

You said: “I haven’t had flu for decades. I am also concerned about more vaccinations as I had a bad fever/chills/ exhaustion reaction to both the Covid-19 jabs.”

Amanda says: “Studies on the flu and Covid vaccinations have shown that they are safe when given together or close together. Side effects are generally mild and the risks are outweighed by the benefits.”