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Flu and COVID-19: A guide for adults


Flu and COVID-19 vaccinations

A guide for adults autumn/winter 2022-23

August 2022


Flu and COVID-19 are caused by viruses that spread very easily and can cause some people to become seriously ill and die. Older people and those with certain health conditions are more at risk. This winter we expect to see COVID-19 and flu circulating at the same time, so it’s very important to get protected to reduce the risk of being admitted to hospital due to these infections.

Make sure you don’t delay getting your flu or COVID-19 vaccine if you’re advised to.


Will these vaccines protect me?

Having a yearly flu vaccine is one of the best ways to protect against catching and spreading flu. A COVID-19 vaccine reduces the chance of you suffering from severe illness or dying from COVID-19.

Protection from both vaccines generally starts around two weeks after having them. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective. You might still get flu or COVID-19, but your symptoms are likely to be milder.

It is important to be up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines. If you have missed a previous booster dose and are eligible this autumn, you will only need to have the autumn booster dose.


Who needs these vaccines?

Flu and COVID-19 are both more likely to be serious if you have a long-term health condition, are pregnant, or are older. You are more likely to get complications from these infections if you catch them.

Table 1 Who is eligible for these vaccines in Wales?


Flu vaccine

COVID-19 vaccine

Pregnant women

People aged 50 or over

People with a long-term health condition that increases the risk

From 6 months of age

From 5 years of age

People who live in a care home

People with a learning disability

People with severe mental illness


The following groups are also advised to have flu and COVID-19 vaccines to help protect themselves and the people around them.


Flu vaccine

COVID-19 vaccine

People who live with someone who has a weakened immune system

From 6 months of age

From 5 years of age

Carers aged 16 and over

Frontline health and social care workers

All staff working in care homes for older adults


For the latest information, including who is eligible for the flu and COVID-19 vaccines, visit

If you have not had the COVID-19 or flu vaccination previously

All adults in Wales have been offered a primary course of COVID-19 vaccine.

If you have not yet had either of your first two doses of the vaccine you should check with your health board for further information:

You do not have to have had a flu vaccine previously to be eligible.

NHS Wales strongly recommends you get the vaccine as soon as it is offered to you.


Is there anyone who should not have a flu or COVID-19 vaccine?

There are very few people who cannot have these vaccines. The vaccines should not be given to anyone who has had:

  • a confirmed serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to any of the ingredients of the vaccines, or
  • a confirmed serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of the same flu or COVID-19 vaccine.

Let the person giving you the vaccines know if you have a serious egg allergy. You can still have a flu vaccine, but special arrangements might be needed.


If I am unwell, should I have the vaccine(s)?

If you are unwell, it is better to wait until you have recovered to have a vaccine, but you should try to have it as soon as possible. If you are unable to attend your vaccination appointment, please cancel and rearrange the appointment.

A cold or other minor illness is not a reason to delay your vaccine. However, if you have recently had COVID-19, before you have your COVID-19 vaccine you will need to wait:

  • at least four weeks if you are over 18 or in a group that is at greater risk of   serious illness from COVID-19, or
  • at least 12 weeks if you are under 18 and not in a group at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

If in doubt, discuss this with the person giving you your vaccination.


How to get your flu vaccine

If you are an adult in a risk group, are pregnant or are aged 50 or over, you can get your flu vaccine at your GP surgery or at some community pharmacies. If you work in health or social care, ask your employer where to get your vaccine.

Care home staff and domiciliary carers should talk to their community pharmacy about getting their flu vaccine.

If you think you might have missed the invitation for a flu vaccine, contact your GP or your community pharmacy.


How to get your COVID-19 vaccine

The NHS will let you know when and where to have the vaccine. It’s important to attend your appointment when you are invited. If you have not attended or have missed your appointment, contact your local health board. Contact details will be on your appointment letter. You can find more information on how to get your vaccination at:


Pregnant women

If you are pregnant, having your flu and COVID-19 vaccines will help protect you and your unborn baby from the known risks of flu and COVID-19 infection. The flu vaccine also helps protect your baby in the first four to six months of life, when flu can be very serious.

As soon as you know you are pregnant make sure you are fully up to date with your COVID-19 and flu vaccinations (if the flu vaccine is available). You can have most of them at the same time as the whooping cough vaccine which is given to pregnant women from 16 weeks of pregnancy. However, don’t delay your vaccines simply so you can have them at the same time.

You can find more details about vaccinations for pregnant women at:


Fertility and COVID-19 vaccines

There is no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 vaccine will affect fertility in women or men. You do not need to avoid getting pregnant after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.


When should I get these vaccines?

Flu vaccines usually become available from September each year. Ideally, you should have your flu vaccine before flu starts to circulate. You can have it later but having it before flu circulates is best.

In 2022, COVID-19 autumn boosters will be offered from September, at least three months after your last dose.


Can these vaccines be given at the same time as other vaccines?

Flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time as most other vaccinations. Your healthcare professional will discuss this with you at your appointment.

Some people may be able to get their flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time if both are due, available and can be given together. However, don’t delay your vaccinations simply so you can have them at the same time.


Will I get any side effects from these vaccines?

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. This is because vaccines work by prompting a response in your immune system. Most side effects are mild and short term, and not everyone gets them.

Very common side effects in the first day or two include:

  • a heavy feeling or soreness where you had the injection
  • general aches or flu-like symptoms
  • feeling tired
  • having a headache, and
  • a mild fever.

You may have a mild fever for two to three days after having a vaccine. However, a high temperature is unusual and may be because you have another infection or illness. If you are worried speak to your doctor or nurse. You can take paracetamol (follow the advice in the packet and do not take more than the recommended dose), and rest to help you feel better.

There have been reports of an extremely rare condition involving blood clots and unusual bleeding after vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine. This is being carefully monitored, but the risk factors for this condition are not yet clear.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises there is a much lower rate of blood clots and unusual bleeding with second and booster doses. Because of the high risk of complications and death from COVID-19, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have concluded that the balance is very much in favour of vaccination for the vast majority of adults.


If you experience any of the following from around four days to four weeks after your vaccination, you should get medical advice urgently.

  • A new, severe headache which is not helped by usual painkillers or is getting worse.
  • An unusual headache which seems to get worse when lying down or bending over or may be accompanied by:
    • blurred vision, nausea and vomiting
    • difficulty with your speech, or
    • weakness, drowsiness or seizures.
  • New, unexplained pinprick bruising or bleeding.
  • Shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling in your legs or persistent abdominal pain.

An uncommon side effect after the COVID-19 vaccine is swollen glands in the armpit or neck on the same side as the arm where you had the vaccine. This can last for around 10 days, but if it lasts longer contact your GP surgery for advice. If you are due for breast screening (a mammogram) in the few weeks after the vaccine, mention you’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine when you attend.

Rare cases of inflammation of the heart (called myocarditis or pericarditis) have been reported after some COVID-19 vaccines. These cases have been seen mostly in younger men within several days after vaccination. Most of these people recovered and felt better following rest and simple treatment.

You should get medical advice urgently if you have:

• chest pain

• shortness of breath, or

• a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart.

Other side effects are uncommon or very rare.

If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, call NHS 111 or your GP surgery. If you do get advice from a doctor or nurse, make sure you tell them what vaccines you have had so they can assess you fully.


Reporting side effects

You can also report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card scheme. You can do this online by searching Yellow Card scheme, by downloading the Yellow Card app, or by calling 0800 731 6789 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).

To help stop viruses spreading, remember to:

CATCH IT - Use a tissue when you sneeze or cough

BIN IT - put the tissue in the bin as soon as possible

KILL IT - by washing your hands or use hand sanitizer

Key points

  • Flu and COVID-19 can both be very serious.
  • Vaccination is one of the best ways to protect against these viruses.
  • In 2022, flu vaccines and COVID-19 booster vaccines are available from September.
  • If you are eligible, get your vaccines. Don’t miss out!

More information

You can find more information on vaccines offered in Wales at:

You can find out more information about vaccines, including their contents and possible side effects at: You will need to enter the name of the vaccine in the search box.

You can report suspected side effects online at or by downloading the Yellow Card app or calling 0800 731 6789 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).

If you have any questions or want more information, you can visit, talk to your doctor or nurse or call NHS 111 Wales.

To find out how the NHS uses your information, visit:

For other formats of this leaflet, visit:


© Public Health Wales, August 2022

(With acknowledgement to UK Health Security Agency)

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