Flu vaccines

Flu jabs are available every year on the NHS for those people who need it. The best time to have the jab is in the autumn, but if you’ve missed this time you can still go to your GP surgery or local pharmacy and arrange to have the flu jab.1

Having a flu vaccine is very simple and quick to do.

The flu jab, like all vaccines, works by stimulating our immune system to produce antibodies to fight the disease. They do this without actually giving us the disease.2

To develop a flu jab, manufacturers use the flu virus and then weaken it so it cannot cause flu. The much-weakened version of the virus is then mixed with other ingredients such as stabilisers and preservatives, to make a vaccine dose.3

When you receive a dose of flu jab, the much-weakened virus present in the vaccine is not able to cause flu, but it is enough to stimulate your immune system so it produces antibodies to the flu virus. When some weeks or months later you come into contact with someone who has flu, your immune system recognises the virus straight away and produces antibodies to fight the infection.2

Did you know?

Each year’s flu vaccine is the same for the whole of the northern hemisphere, not just the UK. It usually becomes available from late September/early October, in readiness for the flu season, when cases start to rise, generally in December.2

The flu virus is constantly changing, with no two flu seasons having exactly the same strains of virus. This is why each year, the World Health Organization looks at which flu strains are most likely to be in circulation when that year’s winter season arrives. In February, it recommends three strains, and the vaccine manufacturers develop flu vaccines based on this advice.1