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Flu vaccine

The flu vaccine is available from October 2019 until end of April 2020. This seasons campaign has now ended.

This year, the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the 4 strains of flu virus recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the strains most likely to be circulating this season.

The flu viruses that are circulating change every year. This is why you need to get a new vaccine each year.

You should get your flu vaccination from early October to be protected for flu season.

People 10 years and over should get the vaccine from their GP or Pharmacist or Occupational Health Department. Younger children should get the vaccine from their GP.

The flu vaccine is free if you are in an at-risk group but you may be charged a consultation fee, unless you have a medical card or a GP visit card.

The flu vaccine doesn't contain any live viruses - it cannot give you the flu.

How it works

The flu vaccine helps your immune system to produce antibodies to fight influenza virus. If you have been vaccinated and you come into contact with the virus, these antibodies will attack it and stop you from getting sick.

The flu vaccine starts to work within two weeks.

At-risk groups

We are urging people in at-risk groups to get the flu vaccine. We strongly recommended the vaccine if you:

  • are 65 years of age and over
  • are pregnant
  • are a child or adult with a long-term health condition
  • work in healthcare
  • are a carer or household contact of anyone at increased medical risk of flu
  • live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
  • in regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl

You should not  get the flu vaccine if you have had a severe allergic (anaphylaxis) reaction to a previous dose or any part of the vaccine.

Don’t get the flu vaccine if you are taking medicines called combination checkpoint inhibitors (e.g. ipilimumab plus nivolumab)

Vaccination should be re-scheduled if you have an acute illness with a temperature greater than 38°C.

More information


The flu vaccine is available from October 2020 until end of April 2021. 

This year's seasonal flu vaccine contains protection against 4 strains of flu virus. These are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the strains most likely to be circulating this season.

The four strains are:

  • an A/Guangdong-Maonan/SWL1536/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • a B/Washington/02/2019 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013 (B/Yamagata lineage)-like virus     
  • an A/Hong Kong/2671/2019 (H3N2)-like virus

The 2020/2021 HSE seasonal vaccination programme is Fluenz Tetra vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca

Patient Information Leaflet and the Summary of Product Characteristics are available from www.hpra.ie. 

Read our 'Influenza & pneumococcal vaccination campaign: frequently asked questions for healthcare professionals'

No. There is no thiomersal in the vaccine used in the 2020/2021 flu campaign.

No. There is no gelatin or porcine gelatin in the vaccines used in the 2019/2020 flu campaign. 

It can vary from year-to-year among different age and risk groups. It can depend on the match between the predicted vaccine virus used to produce the vaccine and the viruses that will circulate this season. In general, current flu vaccines tend to work better again influenza B and influenza A(H1N1) viruses and offer lower protection against influenza A(H3N2) viruses. 

Influenza vaccines usually reduce the risk of infection by 40-60%.  Influenza vaccines also reduce the severity of illness, complications from influenza, reduce influenza-related hospitalisations, and admissions to critical care units.

See factsheet at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccineeffect.htm

Flu vaccines have been given for more than 60 years to millions of people, including pregnant women, worldwide. Reactions are generally mild and serious side effects are rare.

The most common side effects are mild and may include soreness, redness or swelling where the injection was given. Headache, fever, aches and tiredness may occur. These side effects do not mean that you are getting flu.


All medicines, including flu vaccines, require licensing by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) or the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Any harmful effects should be reported to the HPRA.

The risk of having an anaphylactic reaction to the seasonal flu vaccine is very rare. They occur in one in a million people.

The vaccine should not be given to those with a history of severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of the vaccine or any of its constituents.

Patients on medicines called combination checkpoint inhibitors (e.g. ipilumumab plus nivolumab) should not receive any influenza vaccines, because of a potential association with  immune-related adverse reactions.


QIV is a low ovalbumin vaccine with an ovalbumin content of ≤0.06 micrograms per dose.

People  with confirmed egg anaphylaxis or egg allergy can be given QIV with an ovalbumin content <0.1 micrograms per dose in a primary care setting with the exception of those who have required admission to ICU for a previous severe anaphylaxis to egg.

People who have required admission to ICU for a previous severe anaphylaxis to egg should be referred for specialist assessment in hospital with regard to vaccine administration.

Flu Poster