As autumn and winter roll in, it's time to start thinking about your annual flu vaccine. 

The flu is one of the biggest problems for the NHS over winter, and with Covid now in the mix as well, hospitals run real risk of being overrun. 

Certain groups can get the flu jab for free on the NHS, which can be administered at various locations across the UK, including your local GP as well as supermarkets and pharmacies. 

However, anyone can get the flu vaccine, with private services offered for those not eligible for the free jab. 

Here's who is eligible for a free vaccine, and how to get one if you aren't...

Who gets flu jab for free in Scotland?

Various groups of people are eligible for the free flu vaccine in Scotland, including:

  • those aged 50 and over
  • those aged 6 months to 49 years who have certain underlying health conditions which increase risk
  • pregnant women
  • children aged 2-5 (not yet at school)
  • health and social care staff
  • unpaid and young carers
  • all primary and secondary school age children, (in school setting)
  • independent NHS contractors, (GP, dental and optometry practices, community pharmacists), laboratory staff (working on COVID-19 testing) including support staff
  • teachers, nursery teachers and support staff in close contact with pupils
  • prison staff and support staff in close contact with the prison population (delivering direct detention services)
  • those in the prison population

According to the Scottish government website, people in these groups will be invited for their flu vaccines by letter. 

Those who think they are eligible to receive a free jag should visit NHS inform. 

People who are identified as eligible to receive the vaccine are being urged to take up the offer, in order to protect those "who are vulnerable to both COVID-19 and the seasonal flu" and "helping to lower the risk of people getting concurrent cases of both viruses."

Who else can get the flu vaccine?

Anyone can get the flu vaccine - those not eligible for the free jab can book a private appointment in pharmacies and supermarkets. 

Prices for private appointments range from £8-£14.99. 

You can book an appointment at: 

  • Asda
  • Tesco
  • Sainsbury's/Lloyds Pharmacy
  • Superdrug
  • Boots

Appointments are already available, with most offered in 10 minute slots. 

How does the flu vaccine work?

According to NHS inform, the vaccine should take around 10-days to work after being administered. 

People are encouraged to get the flu vaccine every year to top up immunity because as viruses develop and mutate, the flu vaccine is adapted to work against the newer strains. 

Although people may still get the flu after having the vaccine, it is likely to be a much milder illness.