Flu vaccination campaign 2021

We have launched our flu campaign to vaccinate staff working closely with patients. 

Why is there an annual flu campaign?​

This year, our annual flu campaign is especially important as more people are likely to get flu this winter. This is because less people will have built up immunity to it this year due to measures put in place for COVID-19 (mask-wearing, physical and social distancing, restrictions on international travel).

This is also the first year that flu will co-circulate alongside COVID-19. Research has shown that if you catch both viruses at the same time you are at increased risk of getting seriously ill. The best way to avoid catching and spreading flu is by having the vaccination before the flu season starts. Cases of Influenza start to circulate in the autumn and through winter. There are usually different circulating strains of the virus and so a new vaccination is created each year. The flu vaccination helps to minimise the spread of disease and protect those most at risk from flu and its complications.

Symptoms of flu include:

  •  high temperature
  • headache
  • shivers
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • extremely achy joints.

The infection can be very debilitating even for those who are normally healthy. For some it can be deadly.

The flu vaccination is offered on the NHS for free, for those most at risk, for example over-65’s, pregnant women, children and those with a compromised immune system. It is also offered for free and encouraged for frontline care workers, for example doctors and nurses, who are looking after those more vulnerable and susceptible to the flu infection. The Royal Marsden takes this very seriously and encourages as many staff as possible to be vaccinated every year.

How we try and prevent flu

At The Royal Marsden we offer the flu vaccine for free to all staff. By having the vaccine it means that staff will reduce their personal risk of getting flu, reduce the risk of our vulnerable patients contracting the virus and protect their own families and friends.

Advice on avoiding flu

We would encourage all those in at risk groups to contact their GP or local pharmacy about getting a flu vaccination as soon as possible. The vaccine takes a couple of weeks to become effective, so by having it early you are well protected when we start to see cases rise. 

You can find out more information about this year’s flu vaccination on the NHS website.

Flu or false?

There are many myths surrounding flu and the flu vaccine. Find out the truth about common flu myths.

The flu vaccine gives you flu


The injected flu vaccine given to adults contains inactivated flu viruses, so it cannot give you flu. Your arm may feel a bit sore where you were injected, and some people get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards. Other reactions are very rare.

The flu is just a bad cold


Flu feels far worse than any common cold! A nasty chesty cough, high temperature, breathlessness, profoundly achy joints, sore throat, runny nose and extreme tiredness.

Many of our patients who are immunosuppressed by chemotherapy or other cancer treatments are also especially susceptible to flu and are far more likely to develop serious complications if infected.

You don’t need a flu vaccine every year


The dominant strains of flu can change each year, and even if they don’t, your immunity declines over time. Having a flu jab every year is the only way to ensure you have optimal protection against the flu.

Healthy people don’t need to be vaccinated


Even though flu can be more serious among the very young, older adults, and those living with chronic or serious illness, anyone is susceptible.

In England, a third of flu-related deaths occur in otherwise healthy people. Having the flu jab could actually save your life!

If I have COVID I won't get Flu


This year is the first time when flu and COVID-19 will co-circulate alongside each other, and research has shown that if you catch both viruses at the same time or one after the other you are at increased risk of getting seriously ill!

If I practice the guidance for COVID I won't get flu


Hand-hygiene, surface cleaning, wearing a face-covering and not touching the face are all really important in helping prevent the spread of Covid-19 and will have an effect in reducing flu circulation. 

This cannot be guaranteed, so a flu vaccination is a belt and braces approach.