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Flu and COVID-19 vaccinations. A guide for adults – autumn/winter 2023-24




― Will these vaccines protect me?
― Who needs these vaccines?
― People eligible for these vaccines in Wales
― When will the flu and COVID-19 vaccines be offered?
― Is there anyone who should not have a flu or COVID-19 vaccine?
― If I am unwell, should I have the vaccines?
― How to get your flu vaccine
― How to get your COVID-19 vaccine
― Pregnant women
― Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause irregular periods or unexpected bleeding?
― Can these vaccines be given at the same time as other vaccines?
― Will I get any side effects from these vaccines?
― Reporting side effects
― Key points
― Where can I get more information?



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 flu and COVID-19 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. 

You will be offered the most suitable vaccine for your age and condition.

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. 

People at higher risk of severe COVID-19 will be offered a vaccination this autumn. A COVID-19 vaccine reduces the chance of you being seriously unwell 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.

Who needs these vaccines? 

If you have a long-term health condition, are pregnant or are older, flu and COVID-19 are both more likely to be serious. 

The flu and COVID-19 vaccination programmes continue to reduce severe disease across the population. As a result, both vaccines are being offered this autumn to people at higher risk of serious illness. 

People eligible for these vaccines in Wales

  Flu vaccine COVID-19 vaccine
Pregnant women YES YES
People aged 65 or over YES YES
People with long-term health conditions that put them at risk YES
(from 6 months of age – see note below)
(from 6 months of age)
People who live in a care home or who are in long-stay care YES YES
(care homes for older adults)
People with a learning disability YES YES

Note: All children aged two to 16 can have a free flu vaccine in 2023-2024.

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 YES
(from 6 months of age – see note below)
(from 12 years of age)
Paid and unpaid carers

(from 16 years of age)

(from 16 years of age)

Frontline health and social care workers YES YES
Care home staff who have regular contact with clients  YES YES
(all care home staff)

Note: All children aged two to 16 can have a free flu vaccine in 2023-2024. 

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

When will the flu and COVID-19 vaccines be offered?

Flu and COVID-19 vaccination appointments will be offered between September and December 2023. You may be offered both vaccines at the same time, but if not, go ahead with whichever one is offered first and you can catch up with the other vaccine later.

NHS Wales strongly recommends you get the vaccines as soon as they are 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 vaccines?

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. 

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 65 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. If you need more information on how to get your vaccine contact your local health board.

For more details, visit your-covid-19-vaccination.

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 and COVID-19 vaccines also help protect your baby in the first four to six months of life, when these infections can be very serious. 

As soon as you know you are pregnant make sure you are fully up to date with your flu and COVID-19 vaccinations (which are available during autumn and winter). You can have the vaccines 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

Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause irregular periods or unexpected bleeding? 

Period problems are very common and can be caused by many things, including stress and other short-term illnesses. Some people may experience heavier than normal periods in the month or so after the vaccination. While some people have reported other changes to periods after the vaccination, there is no evidence that these were due to the vaccine.

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. 

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 sick or vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • 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.

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 at (for flu vaccines) or (for COVID-19 vaccines), or by downloading the Yellow Card app or calling 0800 731 6789 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm). 


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 sanitiser

Key points

  • Flu and COVID-19 can both be very serious.
  • Vaccination is one of the best ways to protect against these viruses.
  • In 2023, flu vaccines and COVID-19 booster vaccines are available from September. 
  • If you are eligible, get your vaccines. Don’t miss out.

Where can I get more information?

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

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

You can find out more about the vaccine, including its contents and possible side effects, at You will need to enter the name of the vaccine in the search box. You can also see the patient leaflet online. 

You can report suspected side effects online at for flu vaccines), or (for COVID-19 vaccines), or by downloading the Yellow Card app or calling 0800 731 6789 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm). 

A schedule showing which vaccinations are routinely offered in Wales is available from

For vaccine information in accessible formats, such as large print, visit

You can find out how the NHS uses your information at

© Public Health Wales NHS Trust (with acknowledgement to UK Health Security Agency and Public Health Scotland)
Version 2, August 2023
ISBN 978-1-83766-225-8