Flu vaccines — do they really help and who needs them?
Monday, 5 October · 2 min read

With flu season approaching and the coronavirus still spreading, you might be thinking about getting a flu vaccine.

The vaccine works by training your immune system to attack the viruses that cause flu. Because new types of flu viruses circulate annually, you need to get a new jab every year.

It won’t fully protect you from becoming infected but it will reduce your risk, and if you do get the flu, your illness is likely to be shorter and milder.

Experts believe the vaccine is all the more important this year as preventing serious cases of flu will help reduce pressure on healthcare services.

And since it can be difficult to distinguish flu from coronavirus without a test, having the vaccine may reduce the likelihood of you needing to self-isolate due to a fever.

Who needs a flu vaccine?

Some groups are more likely to develop complications from the flu and are usually advised to get a vaccine. This includes people who:

  • are 65 or older
  • are pregnant
  • have long-term health conditions like asthma or diabetes
  • have a weakened immune system

But most adults can get the flu jab if they wish, not just those at high risk — though people with certain allergies may be advised not to.

Quote of the day

Vaccines are the tugboats of preventive health.

William Foege, epidemiologist

More ways to prevent flu: