Flu vaccine for older people

The flu vaccine is the safest way to protect yourself from flu.

If you are 65 or older, you can get the flu vaccine for free each year.

Where to get the free flu vaccine

You can get the flu vaccine from your GP or pharmacist.

You can get the flu vaccine where you live if you:

  • live in a nursing home
  • are housebound

Why older should people get the flu vaccine

Flu can be dangerous for people of all ages.

But people aged 65 and older who get flu are at higher risk of:

  • severe illness
  • going to hospital
  • dying from flu

Most of the people who die of flu are aged 65 or older.

Immunity

You need to have the flu vaccine every year. This is because the antibodies that protect you fade over time. Flu strains also change each year.

Type of flu vaccine for older people

You will be offered either of the quadrivalent influenza vaccines (QIV).

All flu vaccines offer protection against flu and reduce the impact of flu if you catch it.

Who should not get the vaccine

You should not get the flu vaccine if you:

  • have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous flu vaccine or any part of the vaccine
  • are taking medicines called combination checkpoint inhibitors, for example, ipilimumab and nivolumab
  • have a temperature greater than 38 degrees Celsius - wait until you are well before getting the vaccine
  • have severe neutropoenia, which is low levels of a type of white blood cell - if you have primary autoimmune neutropenia, you should be able to get the flu vaccine, ask your GP

If you have an egg allergy, talk to your vaccinator before getting the vaccine. Most people with an egg allergy can get the flu vaccine.

Side effects

After the vaccine, you may have some mild side effects.

These may include:

If you feel any of these side effects, rest and take paracetamol.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects such as a severe allergic reaction are rare.

In very rare cases Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) has been reported. GBS is a condition that affects the nerves in the body. It causes nerve inflammation and can cause pain, numbness, muscle weakness and difficulty walking. But you are far more likely to get Guillain-Barré syndrome from having the flu than from the flu vaccine.

Report any harmful effects to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA)

Other vaccines

You should also get the pneumococcal vaccine if you have not had it before. It protects you from pneumonia. You can get this at the same time as your flu vaccine.

You can also get the flu vaccine at the same time as your COVID-19 booster dose.

Page last reviewed: 7 September 2022
Next review due: 7 September 2025