These pages are about vaccinations available in the UK. If you are looking for information about vaccinations in another country, please contact your local epilepsy organisation.
In this section
Flu is a very infectious virus that comes on very suddenly. The most common symptoms are fever, chills, headaches, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness. For most people, it’s not serious, and they get better within a week. But some people who get flu go on to have more serious conditions, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. In rare cases, people die from the complications of flu.
Each year the Department of Health makes a vaccine available to offer to people at risk of serious complications of flu. Most flu vaccines protect against three types of flu virus. This year one that protects against four types is available in limited amounts in some areas.
The 2013/2014 vaccine will be available in two forms.
- An injection for babies over the age of six months but under the age of two who have a medical condition as listed below, and most adults
- A nasal spray for children aged two or three years on 1 September. In future years, the nasal spray will become available for all young people up to the age of 16.
Babies under six months old should not have the flu vaccine even if they have one of the medical conditions listed below. This is because it doesn’t work well in very young babies. That is why it is so important that pregnant women have the vaccination. They will pass on some immunity to their baby to protect them in the early months of their life.
You should have the flu vaccination if you are
- aged two or three years
- aged 65 years or over
- have certain medical conditions (see below)
- living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
- the main carer for an elderly or disabled person
- a health or social care worker.
You should have the flu vaccination if you have
Epilepsy is a long-term condition but the Department of Health doesn’t believe that people with epilepsy are in a high risk group. This means that you are not automatically called to have a flu vaccine just because you have epilepsy. But, if your family doctor thinks you are at risk of becoming seriously ill if you get flu, they can offer you the flu vaccine.
People who don't qualify for the free flu vaccine can still get it privately from their GP, some pharmacies or some employers. In this case, you may have to pay for it.
More information about flu and vaccinations can be found at NHS choices.
If you think you might have flu, and you want to check your symtoms, help is available in the UK from your national NHS helpline
Health and Social Care (Northern Ireland)
NHS Direct (England)
Tel: 0845 4647 – gradually being replaced by NHS 111. Calls will be re-routed to NHS 111
NHS 24 (Scotland)
Tel: 08454 242 424
NHS Direct Wales
Tel: 0845 4647
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This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.
Updated October 2013To be reviewed October 2014