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HealthInfo Canterbury

Flu (influenza) vaccinations

Most people will benefit from having a flu vaccination. The flu is a serious illness, especially for children and people with certain medical conditions.

The flu vaccination is available to anyone over the age of 6 months.

It is free for anyone who:

Free vaccinations for these high-risk groups are usually available from April through to 31 December each year.

If you aren't eligible for a free flu vaccination you'll still benefit from a vaccination, which is available at a small cost.

The vaccine is different each flu season according to the type of flu that's in the community so you need to have one every year. It takes two weeks for the vaccine to have its full effect.

While the flu vaccine reduces the chance of getting the flu and of becoming seriously unwell with the flu, some vaccinated people still get the flu.

Side effects

You can't catch the flu from the flu vaccine because it doesn't contain any live virus.

Side effects are usually mild and only last a few days. They include redness, pain and swelling around where you had the injection, and feeling slightly unwell with fever, muscle aches, a headache and tiredness.

Allergic reactions to flu vaccination are rare and treatable. You will be asked to wait after your vaccination to be sure you don’t have a reaction.

You can have a flu vaccination through your GP, at many pharmacies or your workplace may provide vaccination.

For more information about flu vaccinations, talk to your GP or see Fightflu – About flu vaccines.


If you've had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccination in the past, discuss this with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before being vaccinated.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2021.

See also:

Flu (influenza)

Helping with fear of vaccination

Why don't I need antibiotics?

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