Flu jabs are looking to be more important than ever this year – if you're wondering where to get a flu jab, read on. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to wage on into autumn, we have a new potential complication thrown into the mix: what happens when you combine COVID-19 with the annual flu season? The answer is further pressure on the NHS and social care workers, and potentially a much more serious illness for those unlucky enough to contract both at the same time (those at higher risk from coronavirus are also those at more risk of problems from flu).
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As a result, demand for flu jabs has shot up. Last week, Boots announced it was limiting the vaccine to those over 65, and the chain has now suspended bookings entirely as a result of unprecedented demand and fears over longer-term stock availability. There are also reports of Boots customers having their flu jab appointments cancelled.
Boots is the only pharmacy to announce its suspension of the service so far. Read on for an update of other places you can still get a flu jab at the moment.
Where can I get a flu jab?
Wondering where to get a flu jab? You can check with your GP first, and if you're pregnant, you may be able to get your free jab from your midwifery service. However, if you need or want to book elsewhere, here's an overview of the current situation:
No way to book online (and no extra info about availability), but you can register your interest here (opens in new tab)
Superdrug offers free NHS flu jabs, as well as private jabs from £12.99. The online booking service is live, but appointments don't start until 5 October. At our local store, appointments are already fairly booked up.
- Book a flu jab at Superdrug (opens in new tab)
Boots has now suspended bookings for its Winter Flu Jab service, both in store and online. You can sign up to be notified when the Boots flu jab service resumes (opens in new tab).
Paid jabs have been suspended, but if you're eligible for a free flu fab you can book here (opens in new tab).
- Well Pharmacy (opens in new tab) – Booking service for free flu jabs
- Patient Access (opens in new tab) – GP appointments online
- Asda (opens in new tab) – Provides flu jabs, but doesn't seem to have an online booking service
Who is eligible for a free flu jab?
In July, the BBC reported (opens in new tab) that the NHS flu programme would this year include all over-50s, as well the whole households of those shielding from coronavirus and those in their first year of secondary school. That would mean around 30 million would be eligible for a free flu jab. Note, however, this updated list is not reflected in the free flu vaccine advice on the NHS website (opens in new tab).
Flu jabs are available for free to certain groups of at-risk individuals. Those eligible for free flu jabs include: anyone aged 65 and over, pregnant people, those in long-stay residential care, frontline health and social care workers, carers of older or disabled people who may be at risk. Free flu jabs are also available for those with certain health conditions that make them more vulnerable to flu complications.
This year, if you're shielding, or live with someone who's at high risk from coronavirus, you're also eligible for a free flu jab (see the NHS shielded patient list (opens in new tab) for details).
If you're not in one of these at-risk groups, you can still pay for a flu vaccine at many pharmacies. The jab may cost up to £20.
When should you get the flu jab?
The NHS recommends you go for your flu vaccine in the autumn, before the flu virus typically starts spreading. In other words: now.