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Getting the flu vaccine

06 October 2020

People in across Scotland eligible for the free flu vaccine are being urged to take up the offer to protect themselves and others and help the NHS avoid additional pressure over the winter period.

Getting the flu vaccine

This year the vaccine is being offered to more people than ever to address the additional risk posed by coronavirus (COVID-19). In order to vaccinate more people safely, where you go to get your vaccine may be different from previous years and may not be at a GP surgery.

New walk-in or drive-through centres have been set up in many areas within local facilities, such as town halls and community hubs, along with outreach programmes for the sole purpose of delivering the free flu jab. They will provide an alternative to GP surgeries for many adults who are eligible and have received, or will receive, a letter in the coming weeks, to book a vaccination appointment.

Each NHS Board has tailored delivery e.g. community clinics, drive through clinics, walk through clinics etc.

GP practices will continue to play an important role – particularly for the most vulnerable members of the community.

As in previous years, local health teams will be deployed to primary schools to offer the vaccination to all primary school aged children.

For those living in and working in care homes, along with those receiving care at home and the elderly, local NHS Boards are making arrangements for vaccinations to take place in the home.

The following groups have been encouraged to come forward for flu vaccination so far: health and social care workers, primary school children and those aged 2-5, those aged 65 and over, and anyone living in the same home as people previously shielding from coronavirus.

Anyone with an eligible health condition will now start to receive their prompts.

All Pregnant women, at any stage of pregnancy should come forward for their vaccination as well. Details of how to get your vaccine are at

From December, those aged 55 to 64 (by 31 March 2021) who would not usually be eligible will also be offered the flu vaccine.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nicola Steedman said:

“This year, more than ever, it is important that you receive your flu vaccine if you are eligible.

“The way the flu vaccine is administered will be a little different for many people, given COVID-19 restrictions, and it may not be at a GP practice for some.

“Some people may be worried about the risks of going out to get their vaccination, but getting your flu vaccine is one of the most important reasons for leaving your home and strict infection prevention and control measures will be in place to protect you. The vaccine is safe and it’s the best way to help protect you from flu this winter. It only takes a few minutes to be vaccinated, and it helps to provide protection from flu for around a year.

“Flu is serious and with COVID-19 still circulating in the community there is increased risk to life if you are ill with both viruses simultaneously, therefore we all need to play our part to keep ourselves as healthy as possible over the winter months. Flu vaccination is a big part of that.”

For further information on how to get your free vaccine visit



 Those aged over 65, and those who have an underlying health condition will receive a letter, with details of how to make an appointment. Pregnant women and household members of those shielding are invited to visit NHS Inform, or call NHS 24 to get details of how to make their appointment. These letters will not all be sent out at the same time and instead will be staggered to ensure those most at clinical risk are prioritised.

People will receive a letter asking them to book an appointment at a venue which may be at their local pharmacy, attending a local walk through centre, by visiting a GP practice or nearby mobile unit or with a district nurse.

Health care workers and front line social care workers will be given details of how they can receive the vaccine by their employers.

Pregnant women, young and unpaid carers and household members of those shielding are invited to visit – or call 0800 22 44 88 for information on how to make an appointment.

More information on eligibility and how to make an appointment in your area is available at – or call 0800 22 44 88 where an NHS24 call handler will be able to direct you.

The flu vaccination programme will run from early October through to February next year.

The following groups are eligible for the free flu vaccine:

  • Those aged 55 years of age and over (55-64 year olds will be immunised in December; over 65s from October)
  • Those over 6 months of age with a medical condition which puts them in an 'at risk' group such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, heart and lung diseases, autoimmune disorders or sickle cell disease
  • Family members living in the same household as those who have previously been shielding from COVID-19
  • Pregnant women (including those with at risk conditions)
  • Children aged 2-11 years old. 2-5 year olds and not yet in school.
  • Health care workers
  • Social care workers
  • Young and unpaid carers

Flu facts

  • The flu vaccine is not a live virus, it cannot give a person flu
  • It takes minutes to administer and is effective after 10 days
  • You need to get the flu vaccine every year
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