Free flu jabs and dealing with colds

A safe, effective, annual influenza vaccination is available free of charge for groups who are at risk, including:

  • those aged 65 years and over
  • those aged 6 months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups
  • pregnant women
  • all children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2023
  • primary school children (from reception to year 6)
  • those in long-stay residential care homes
  • carers in receipt of carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person
  • close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
  • frontline workers in a social care setting without an employer led occupational health scheme including those working for a registered residential care or nursing home, registered domiciliary care providers, voluntary managed hospice providers and those that are employed by those who receive direct payments (personal budgets) or Personal Health budgets, such as personal assistants
  • secondary school children in years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 (including home-schooled and other children not in mainstream education)

If you belong to one of these groups, speak to your GP to book a vaccination appointment or speak to your local pharmacy as they may also provide free flu vaccination.

These pharmacies (PDF 70.2KB) offer free immunisation to 'at risk' groups in Central Bedfordshire.

If you are not eligible for a free flu vaccination, you can still get a vaccination for a small payment through your pharmacist.

Read our debunked myths about the flu vaccine (PDF 400KB) , if you have doubts.

Dealing with colds

If you feel unwell, even if it’s just a cold, act quickly. A pharmacist can advise on medication such as pain relief and explain how to stock up your medicine cabinet to help you get through winter. Common winter ailments, such as a cold, sore throat, or cough, can’t be treated with antibiotics.

Take your medicines as directed

If you’ve been prescribed antibiotics or other medications, make sure you take them as directed.

Order your prescription early

Don’t run out of your regular medication - order well in advance of the Christmas holidays.

Here to help you stay well this winter

Call 111

If you need medical help fast, but it’s not life threatening. An NHS adviser will direct you to the right service in your area. NHS 111 is available free 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Ask a pharmacist

They are highly trained healthcare experts.

Visit a walk-in centre

These are mainly run by nurses who treat minor illnesses and injuries on the spot. You don’t need an appointment and they’re open outside office hours.

Contact your GP

They are available 24 hours a day with an out of hours service

Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments

Only go to A&E for life-threatening emergencies only. If you’re not sure call 111 first.

For more information and advice visit

Top tips to keep warm at home

Keeping warm helps prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems. Here are a few top tips:

  • heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F)
  • keep bedroom windows closed on winter nights
  • keep active when indoors: try not to sit still for more than an hour or so at a time
  • wear several layers of light clothes rather than one bulky layer
  • get all the help you’re entitled to with heating bills and advice on keeping your home warm from GOV.UK (link opens in new window)
  • make sure heating and cooking appliances are safe - contact a Gas Safe engineer to check them