At Well, we offer a winter flu jab (vaccination) service at our community pharmacies.
Considering a flu jab? Find out more about flu jab eligibility and why it could be the right choice for you.
The flu, short for influenza, is an illness caused by an infection from the influenza virus. The virus infects your nose, throat and sometimes your lungs.
The flu is highly contagious and spreads easily between people, particularly in the winter months as the influenza virus lives and grows best in cold and dry conditions.
The flu can cause symptoms similar to a cold, but they tend to come on faster and be more severe. Symptoms will vary by person, but common symptoms of the flu include:
Although it can lay even the fittest person out for a few days, most people recover from the flu in around one week without any complications.
However, the flu can be more serious for some people. It can also cause dangerous complications, like pneumonia and heart problems, and be fatal in severe cases.
People who are most at risk of serious flu complications include:
The flu jab is a safe and effective vaccine that protects you against the flu. It’s given as a single injection, usually into your upper arm.
The vaccine contains small amounts of the inactivated flu virus. This won’t give you the flu but will allow your immune system to develop the antibodies to kill the virus. If the virus tries to infect you following the flu jab, your body will already have the defences to stop it.
You can have the NHS flu vaccine for free if you:
If you don’t belong to one of the categories above, you can still have a private flu jab. The flu can be a miserable illness to catch and a flu jab is a simple and effective way to make sure you have a flu-free winter.
Your question may be covered in our FAQs about the flu below.
If your questions aren’t covered below, or you would like to talk to someone face-to-face, then our pharmacists are more than happy to answer any questions you have about the flu jab. Find your nearest Well Pharmacy.
We operate 760 local pharmacies across the UK, most of which offer the flu jab.
Find your nearest Well Pharmacy.
In the UK, the flu season usually lasts from December to March.
Why the flu strikes in winter used to be a mystery. Common theories to explain flu season were that people had weakened immune systems in the winter months, or that people spent more time indoors with each other and spread the virus more easily. More recent scientific research has revealed the real reason is that the influenza virus survives for longer and spreads better in cold and dry conditions.
Aim to have your flu jab before the flu season starts each year. October or November is best.
The virus that causes the flu rapidly mutates and evolves into new strains. Each year, experts from organisations like the World Health Organisation identify which strains pose the greatest risk in the upcoming flu season, and a vaccine is developed to protect against those strains. Next year, different strains will have emerged, so a new vaccine is needed before each flu season begins.
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lungs, usually caused by a bacterial infection. It can also be caused by a virus like flu or coronavirus (COVID-19). 20,000 cases are reported in the UK each year.
During winter, more vulnerable patients are at increased risk of developing pneumonia. Some patients who get COVID-19 will also get severe inflammation of the lungs, and potentially pneumonia. Our Pneumonia Vaccination Service enhances the immune system and protects against 13 common strains of bacteria known to cause the illness.