Immunity

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WHAT IS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM?

The immune system’s function is to defend the body against infection and disease. The immune system works quietly in the background 24/7 to help defend the body from infections and diseases. 

There are many things that impact how well the immune system functions, from diet and common illnesses to immune conditions and transplants.

If you’re ill, your immune system produces antibodies that destroy disease-carrying organisms and attack the cause of the illness. 

We take a look at the role the immune system plays in the body, the different types of immune conditions and other factors that can affect how well the immune system functions. 

IMMUNITY: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The immune system is the body’s defence mechanism against harmful substances such as germs, bacteria, viruses and toxins. Find out more about immunity, the benefits of a strong immune system and what happens when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues or organs, which is called autoimmunity

The immune system is the body’s defence against infection and one of the key ways the body maintains our health. This complex system is made up of a collection of tissues, cells and organs such as the:
• digestive system

• skin

• bone marrow

• lymph nodes

• blood

• spleen 

• tonsils

• skin on the inside of your nose, throat and genitals 

The tissues, cells and organs all work together to protect your body from harmful substances, foreign bodies like germs, and cell changes that could make you ill.

The human body and its immune system work 24/7 to help keep us healthy, with multiple functions to help naturally defend against infection.

The skin

The skin is the largest organ, covering almost all of the body. This acts as a physical barrier to prevent infection from pathogens, healing itself if it’s ever cut, grazed or wounded.

Sneezing 

This is one of the body’s first defences against invading bacteria and foreign particles such as dirt, pollen or dust. When we sneeze, it helps clear these particles and bacteria out of our system.

Nasal hair & mucus

Inside the nose are small hairs which form a physical barrier against infection. Cells in the nose produce mucus which traps pathogens before they can enter the lungs. When the nose is blown, the mucus, along with any pathogens and bacteria is removed. 

Eyelashes

The eyes are one of the most sensitive parts of the human body. The eyelashes’ function is to help prevent airborne particles and objects such as pollen, dirt and debris from reaching and harming the eye’s surface.

The stomach

Stomach acid helps stop most of the germs that enter the body through the food we eat.

A well-functioning immune system plays a key role in our overall health by helping to stop the spread of infections. It can recognise harmful bacteria, fighting against them to help stop you from getting ill. A healthy immune system means you are more likely to have good general health.

You may have a weakened immune system if you:

• always have a cold 

• notice wounds take longer to heal

• have frequent infections 

• feel tired all the time 

There are many things you can do to help support the function of your immune system, which include:

Getting enough sleep 

The NHS recommends adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. While the odd bad night’s sleep won’t harm your health in the long run, regular sleepless nights can impact the immune system. When you sleep, the body works through the night, releasing cytokines (small proteins that help the body fight inflammation and infection). If you don’t get enough sleep, less of the cytokine proteins are produced. Find out more about how sleep impacts the immune system.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet

Having a healthy and varied diet is the best way to get all the nutrients that are important for maintaining a healthy immune system.

Help support your immune system by filling your plate with: 

• high-fibre, plant-based foods like fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils

• healthy fats such as salmon and olive oil

• foods rich in beneficial bacteria like live yoghurts may be helpful

It’s also recommended to limit how much sugar you consume. If you don’t think you’re getting enough of a particular vitamin or mineral from your diet, you may want to consider taking a supplement, covered in further detail below. Take a look at our Nutrition Hub for more information on a balanced diet and food inspiration. 

Doing regular moderate exercise

Exercise is beneficial for the mind and body alike, and contributes to a healthy lifestyle. The NHS recommends adults aged 19 to 64 do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week, such as walking and swimming. Regular exercise is also thought to increase the circulation of immune cells, allowing the substances of the immune system to move around the body easily. For exercise inspiration, take a look at our guide to home workouts.

Staying hydrated

Not only does water keep us hydrated, but it also supports the immune system by helping the body to naturally remove toxins and other bacteria that can cause illness. Adults should aim to drink between six and eight glasses of water or other fluids per day but if you struggle to reach this, take a look at our practical tips for drinking more water.

Reducing your everyday stress levels

While it’s easier said than done, keeping everyday stress levels in check can benefit your immune system. This is because when you’re feeling stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced, making you more vulnerable to infections and diseases. It’s also thought that the stress hormone cortisol can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system. You may want to consider trying gentle and mindful exercises such as yoga or creating a morning meditation routine. Find more information on coping with everyday stress.

Washing your hands regularly

It goes without saying that washing your hands regularly can help stop germs from spreading which can help you to stay well. Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds and dry them properly before eating or touching your mouth, eyes or face.

Consider taking a supplement

As well as the above, you may find that taking a multivitamin and supplement that supports your immune health may be a good idea if you’re lacking certain vitamins or nutrients from your diet. 

All of the following nutrients contribute to the normal function of the immune system: 

• vitamin c

• vitamin d

• vitamin a 

• vitamin b12

• vitamin b6

• zinc 

• copper

• folic acid

• iron

• selenium

Food supplements are intended to supplement the diet and should not be substituted for a varied diet and healthy lifestyle.

One of the best ways to protect yourself or a child against a specific disease like measles, rubella, tetanus or meningitis, is through vaccination.

Vaccinations work by teaching your immune system how to create antibodies that protect you from certain diseases. Once your immune system knows how to fight a disease, it can offer protection for several years. However, each disease is different so some may require repeated vaccinations at specific intervals to help you stay protected, but your GP can confirm this with you. It's important that NHS childhood vaccinations are given on time for the best protection, but if you or your child have missed a vaccination, contact your GP. Find more information on the vaccinations offered at Boots.13

Children are often exposed to more germs and bacteria from being in schools and nurseries – for example, sharing toys, books and games. So it’s important to teach children how to protect themselves, like teaching them to wash their hands properly, to support their immune systems and protect them from outside invaders.

Childhood vaccinations

As part of the NHS childhood vaccinations programme since 2015, children are eligible for vaccinations between the ages of eight weeks and 15 years old to protect against diseases and illnesses such as meningitis, flu, measles, mumps and rubella. Find more information on the vaccination schedule

Chickenpox vaccination 

Chickenpox is a very common and contagious infection that's caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Most children get it at some point, usually under the age of 10. Children can be protected against the virus through the chickenpox vaccination. It’s not part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule, but it is offered through our Chickenpox Vaccination Service.14 The vaccination service is available for both adults and children aged between one and 65 years inclusive at the time of the first vaccination. The pharmacist will check suitability during the consultation.

Travel vaccinations

Before travelling abroad, it’s important to ensure your child’s NHS vaccinations are up to date and to seek any advice from your GP if you’re travelling outside of the UK. Getting vaccinated can help protect you and your child from getting ill from diseases found in other parts of the world. Find more information on our Travel Vaccination & Health Advice Service.*

Vitamins

The government recommends all children aged six months to five years be given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D  every day, all of which contribute to the normal function of the immune system. When you buy your baby vitamin supplements, make sure you read the label to check they are age appropriate.

Vitamin A can be found in foods like:

• dairy 

• carrots, sweet potatoes, swede and mangoes

• dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and cabbage

• fortified fat spreads 

You can find vitamin C in foods such as:

• citrus fruits such as oranges

• strawberries

• broccoli

• tomatoes 

• peppers

Vitamin D can be found in the likes of:

• oily fish 

• eggs 

• some fortified cereals 

The Department of Health and Social Care recommends that a daily vitamin D supplement (8.5-10mcg) is given to babies under one year of age who are breastfed or have less than 500ml of infant formula a day. Children aged one to four are advised to take a daily supplement of vitamin D (10 mcg) all year round, while children over four should take a daily supplement (10 mcg) during the autumn and winter months. Find out more information on children’s vitamins. Food supplements are intended to supplement the diet and should not be substituted for a varied diet and healthy lifestyle.

Breastfeeding 

During the last three months of pregnancy, antibodies from the mother are passed to their unborn babies through the placenta. This is known as passive immunity as the baby has been given antibodies rather than making them itself. Antibodies are special proteins the immune system produces to help protect the body against bacteria and viruses. Once the baby is born, their immunity starts to decrease in the first few weeks or months. Breast milk, particularly the thick yellow milk (known as colostrum), is produced in the first few days after birth and is rich in antibodies. This means that babies who are breastfed have passive immunity for longer. The Department of Health & Social Care recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and it can continue to benefit your baby along with solid foods for many months after. 

Cold and flu are both very common and share similar symptoms, however, they’re caused by different groups of viruses. You can catch both a cold or the flu virus any time of the year but they are most common during the winter months, with the UK flu season falling between December and March, as this is when people tend to spend more time mixing together indoors.

Find more information on colds and flu.

Symptoms of a common cold

A cold generally clears up within a week and can cause the following symptoms: 

• a sore throat

• a cough

• a blocked or runny nose

• sneezing 

• headaches 

• loss of taste and smell 

Symptoms of the flu 

Flu symptoms can start more suddenly, be more severe and last longer than a cold. Although cold-like symptoms can be present with the flu, they can also be accompanied by:
• a sudden high temperature (fever)

• a headache 

• feeling tired and weak

• body aches and pains

• a dry and chesty cough

• loss of appetite 

• difficulty sleeping

The flu can be dangerous and even life-threatening for some people, particularly those with certain health conditions and weakened immune systems.

You can help protect yourself from the flu and reduce the risk of spreading it to others with the NHS Flu Vaccination Service.15 It’s best to get the vaccination in the autumn or early winter before the flu starts spreading. Although it’s still possible to get flu after having the vaccination, it’s likely to be milder and not last as long.

The NHS Flu vaccination service is free in most stores across England and Wales for adults who:

• are 65 and over

• have certain health conditions

• are pregnant 

• are in long-stay residential care

• receive a carer’s allowance or are the main carer for an older or disabled person at risk of getting ill

• live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system

Got more questions? You can find more information on the vaccination through our FAQ page.

There are over 100 different types of autoimmune conditions, each with its own set of symptoms and treatment options. Some of the most common types of autoimmune conditions include:

• type 1 diabetes

• rheumatoid arthritis

• psoriasis

• multiple sclerosis

• lupus 

Type 1 diabetes

This type of autoimmune condition is caused by the immune system mistakenly killing cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone which controls blood sugar levels. This results in your blood sugar becoming too high. Less than one in 10 people in the UK who have diabetes have type 1 diabetes and it can develop at any age, but it’s often diagnosed during childhood. People with type 1 diabetes will need to regularly test their blood sugar levels and take insulin every day to keep their blood sugar levels under control. If you think you have type 1 diabetes or you’re concerned you may develop diabetes, speak to your GP as soon as possible.
Find out more about type 1 diabetes on our Diabetes Hub.

Rheumatoid arthritis 

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term autoimmune condition that causes joint pain, swelling and stiffness, more commonly in the wrists, hands and feet. There may be periods where symptoms are under control and then become worse, this is known as a flare-up or flare. This happens when the immune system doesn’t work properly and attacks the cells that line the joints by mistake. If you think you might have rheumatoid arthritis, it’s important to see your GP quickly, as early diagnosis and treatment enable many people to have months or sometimes years between flare-ups. Find more information on the treatment and management of arthritis.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis affects around 2% to 3% of the UK population and is a long-term skin condition that’s triggered by a problem with the immune system. It causes flaky and itchy patches of skin which form scales. This happens because too many new skin cells are made and replaced too quickly. Although psoriasis can occur anywhere on the body, it’s most common on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back. If you think you have psoriasis, speak to your GP. Find more information on treating and living with psoriasis.

Multiple sclerosis 

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a lifelong condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord. Although it can cause severe disability, it can sometimes be mild. Affecting more than 130,000 people in the UK, MS is caused when your immune system mistakes myelin (the layer that surrounds and protects the nerves) for a foreign body and attacks it. This damages the myelin and strips it off the nerve fibres. This damage then disrupts messages travelling along the nerve fibres. It causes symptoms such as problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance and can slightly shorten the average life expectancy. If you think you have MS, speak to your GP. Find more information on MS Society.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakes the body’s own tissues for foreign invaders. In people with lupus, the immune system creates autoantibodies to attack the body’s tissues.

It can cause symptoms such as:

• joint and muscle pain 

• extreme tiredness that doesn’t improve, no matter how much sleep you get

• rashes, typically across the nose and cheeks

• inflammation of the lungs, heart, liver and kidneys (this is more severe lupus)

You may also have:

• headaches

• mouth sores

• a high temperature (fever)

• hair loss

• sensitivity to light (causing rashes on uncovered skin)

If you notice any of the above symptoms, speak to your GP. Lupus is better managed if it’s diagnosed and treated early. To get a diagnosis, your GP will usually do some blood tests. If the results show high levels of a type of antibody, combined with the typical symptoms, this can mean lupus is likely. 

There’s no cure for lupus but there are generally three types of treatment available:
• anti-inflammatory medicines 

• medicines to treat fatigue and skin and joint problems

• medicines to treat kidney inflammation and rashes

While these can help keep lupus under control, there are some basic lifestyle things you can do to help manage your symptoms:
• use a high-factor (50+) sunscreen – this is available on prescription for those with lupus 

• pace yourself to avoid getting too tired

• try to stay active, even on a bad day

• eat a healthy, balanced diet, including vitamin D and calcium

• try relaxation techniques to manage daily stress, as this can make symptoms worse

• wear a hat in the sun

• tell your employer about your condition, you may be able to adjust your working schedule

If you’re struggling to manage your lupus, don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice from your GP, as well as lean on family and friends for extra support. Find more information on lupus.

Autoimmune hepatitis is a life-long and rare liver disease that occurs when your body’s immune system causes damage to its own healthy liver cells. This leads to chronic inflammation and serious damage to liver cells. Eventually, the liver can become so damaged that it stops working properly.

Nearly a quarter of people with autoimmune hepatitis will have no symptoms. However, early symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis include:

• extreme tiredness (fatigue)

• feeling generally unwell

• itching skin

• yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)

• an aching feeling or discomfort on the upper right side of your tummy

• unexplained weight loss 

• joint or muscle aches and pains

• having little or no appetite

• feeling sick (nausea)

• skin rash

• flu-like symptoms

• missed periods

If you have any of the above symptoms, speak to your GP as soon as possible.

Autoimmune hepatitis can usually be diagnosed by blood tests, scans or by doing a liver biopsy. Once a clear diagnosis is given, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you. Treatment for autoimmune hepatitis involves a combination of medicines that suppress the immune system to stop it from attacking your liver and help reduce inflammation. The main aim of treatment is to improve your symptoms. It can also help prevent or reduce scarring and long-term liver damage and failure. Find more information on The British Liver Trust.

Hashimoto's thyroiditis occurs when the system attacks the thyroid gland, damaging it and making it swell up, called a goitre. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that produces hormones that control the body's metabolism and growth. As the thyroid becomes more damaged over time, it becomes unable to produce enough of the thyroxine (T4) thyroid hormone, which can cause an underactive thyroid.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is most commonly diagnosed in people aged between 30 and 50, typically affecting more women than men. It can cause a variety of symptoms such as:

• tiredness and sleeping more 

• weight gain

• dry skin

• increased sensitivity to the cold

• constipation

• muscle weakness, aches and stiffness

• joint pain 

• swelling of the thyroid (goitre)

• problems with memory or concentration

• depression

These can vary from person to person but if you do have any of the above symptoms, it’s important to see your GP. Although there isn’t a cure for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, your GP may recommend taking certain medicine which replaces the missing thyroid hormone and helps alleviate symptoms. You may need to take it for the rest of your life, but each person is different. In very rare cases, surgery may be required if the goitre is particularly uncomfortable or your doctor suspects it may be cancerous. You can check the health of your thyroid by using the Boots Online Doctor Thyroid Home Test Kit.5

Coeliac disease is a common autoimmune condition, affecting one in 100 people, where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues when you eat gluten. This causes damage to the lining of the gut (small intestine) and means the body can’t properly absorb nutrients from food. Gluten is a dietary protein found in three types of cereal: wheat, rye and barley.

It’s found in any food that contains those cereals, including:

• pasta

• cakes

• breakfast cereals

• most types of bread

• certain types of sauces

• some ready meals

• beer (often made with barley)

Consuming the above foods can trigger symptoms of coeliac disease. They can vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe, including:

Gut symptoms, such as:

diarrhoea

stomach aches

bloating and flatulence

indigestion

constipation

More general symptoms, such as:

• tiredness (fatigue) as a result of not getting enough nutrients from food (malnutrition)

• losing weight without trying 

• an itchy rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)

• problems getting pregnant (infertility)

• nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy)

• disorders that affect co-ordination, balance and speech (ataxia)

If you have any of the above symptoms, speak to your GP. It’s a good idea to keep a food diary so you can take note of any patterns in your diet and symptoms. Although there’s no cure for coeliac disease, eating a gluten-free diet should help keep symptoms under control. Coeliac disease is not an allergy or food intolerance, although it’s often mistaken for a gluten intolerance. Find out more information on the differences between coeliac disease and gluten intolerance.

Iron deficiency anaemia is a condition where your body doesn’t produce enough healthy red blood cells or haemoglobin to meet your body’s needs. Haemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen around your body.

Anaemia is caused by a lack of iron, often due to blood loss or pregnancy, especially if you don’t have enough iron in your diet. This lack of iron can affect the immune system meaning if it’s left untreated, iron deficiency anaemia can put you at a greater risk of illness and infection.

If you have anaemia, the tissues and organs in your body may not get enough oxygen and this can cause symptoms such as: 

• tiredness and lack of energy

• shortness of breath

• feelings of a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart (heart palpitations)

• pale skin

Speak to your GP if you think you have iron deficiency anaemia. During your appointment, they can do a blood test to check your red blood cell count. Once a diagnosis is clear and the cause has been determined, your GP will recommend the appropriate treatment.

If your diet is causing iron deficiency anaemia, your GP may advise you to try to incorporate some of the following iron-rich foods in your diet:

• dark-green leafy vegetables like watercress and kale

• cereals and bread with extra iron in them (fortified)

• meat

• dried fruit like apricots, prunes and raisins

• pulses (beans, peas and lentils)

And try to reduce eating and drinking:

• tea

• coffee

• milk and dairy

• foods with high levels of phytic acids, such as wholegrain cereals, which can stop your body from absorbing iron from other foods and supplements 

In some cases, your GP may recommend taking an iron tablet to replace the iron that’s missing from your body. Food supplements are intended to supplement the diet and should not be substituted for a varied diet and healthy lifestyle. Keep iron supplement tablets out of the reach of children.

You may want to consider trying the My Health Checked Iron Deficiency (ferritin) Rapid Test which has been a good indication of ferritin levels in your blood by medical experts to check your current levels of iron using a simple home blood sample. Results are given within five minutes and will give you a good indication of whether you have too much or too little ferritin in your blood. Make an appointment with your GP to discuss your results and to talk through your next steps. Find more information on iron deficiency anaemia

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that damages the cells in your immune system and weakens your ability to fight everyday infections and diseases. HIV is passed through certain bodily fluids, this includes semen (and pre-seminal fluid), vaginal and anal fluids, blood and breast milk. Initial symptoms of HIV include a short flu-like illness that typically occurs two to six weeks after infection, although this can vary from person to person. After these symptoms disappear, HIV may not cause any new symptoms for many years, however, the virus can still damage your immune system.

The most common symptoms are a raised temperature (fever), sore throat and body rash but other symptoms include:

• tiredness

• joint pain

• muscle pain 

• swollen glands 

You should get tested as soon as possible if you suspect you have HIV. You can get tested at your local sexual health clinic or at some GP surgeries. Alternatively, you can do a test from the comfort of your own home using the Boots Online Doctor HIV Home Test Kit.While there’s no cure for HIV, there are effective drug treatments which allow many people with the virus to live a long and healthy life. Find more information on HIV.2

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Taking vitamins and supplements may help support the function of the immune system, particularly if you think you’re lacking certain nutrients from your diet. 

All of the following vitamins and nutrients contribute to the normal function of the immune system: 

• Vitamin C

• Vitamin D

• Vitamin A 

• Vitamin B12

• Vitamin B6

• Zinc 

• Copper

• Folic acid

• Iron

• Selenium

Most people can get the vitamin D they need through sunlight and from eating a balanced diet. However, during the autumn and winter, the sun isn’t strong enough for your body to make vitamin D. The Department of Health and Social Care recommends everyone (including children over four and pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during these months. 

Some people will not make enough vitamin D from sunlight because they have very little or no exposure to the sun. This includes those who:

• are not often outdoors 

• are in an institution like a care home

• often wear clothes that cover up most of their skin when outdoors

• have dark skin, for example, you have an African, African-Caribbean or South Asian background

Some supplements may not be suitable for people with certain health conditions, those taking some prescription or over-the-counter medications, or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Speak to a healthcare professional before taking any supplements.

Find more information on vitamins, supplements and the immune system. Food supplements are intended to supplement the diet and should not be substituted for a varied diet and healthy lifestyle.

There are two types of immunity: active and passive. Active immunity is when your body has exposure to a disease and your immune system produces its own antibodies, as though the body has been infected with a disease. Active immunity can be obtained through vaccination or previous infection of the disease. 

Passive immunity is when someone is given the antibodies for the disease. Newborns get these antibodies from their mother through the placenta, however, this decreases in the weeks or months after birth. 

Immunodeficiency, also called under activity of the immune system, happens when the immune system doesn’t function correctly, meaning it can make you more vulnerable to infections and diseases. This can be life-threatening in some cases. 

Immunodeficiency disorders can be either primary or secondary. Primary immunodeficiencies (PID) are the result of genetic defects, and secondary immunodeficiencies (SID) occur when the immune system is weakened by another treatment or illness. 

Immunodeficiencies can be:

• inherited – this is particularly common with primary immunodeficiencies as these can be caused by errors in the genes of the cells that make up the immune system 

• triggered by medical treatment – this can occur due to medications such as chemotherapy 

• caused by another disease – such as HIV/AIDS or certain types of cancer

You can find more information on Immunodeficiency UK.

Vaccinations are one of the most effective ways to protect you from serious illness and disease, preventing up to three million deaths worldwide each year.

When it comes to the immune system, vaccinations can teach it how to create antibodies that protect you from diseases. It’s a lot safer for your immune system to learn this through vaccination than by catching the disease. Vaccinations have a good safety profile, in that they help stop diseases spreading to people who can’t have vaccinations. They can also reduce or even get rid of some diseases if enough people are vaccinated. Vaccinations undergo rigorous testing before being introduced while constantly being monitored for side effects. Sometimes these side effects include having a sore arm for a couple of days and feeling a little unwell.  

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5
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 Eligibility criteria and charges apply.  In most Boots pharmacies, subject to availability. People aged 65 and over are also eligible for a free NHS pneumonia vaccination. If you’re over 65 and haven’t already had the NHS vaccination, speak to your doctor about having this. It’s a different type of vaccination to the one used in the Boots service so you may want to consider having both to further increase your protection against pneumonia. You may also be eligible for the NHS vaccination if you are under 65 and are living with a long-term health condition such as diabetes. The Boots Pneumonia Vaccination Service does not replace the need for the NHS vaccination.

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Eligibility criteria for a free NHS flu vaccination may vary across each UK country, so please refer to local NHS guidance for details.

16To find out who may be eligible for a FREE NHS flu jab, see boots.com/flu for details. The free NHS (or other locally funded) flu jab is available in most Boots pharmacies in England and Wales and in some Boots pharmacies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Jersey. Also available in our Isle of Man pharmacy. Appointments for the NHS service in England from October. Other locally funded services start in October. Private Service starts in September.  Eligibility criteria apply and vary with locality. Subject to availability. Some people who do not meet the requirements for a free NHS (or other locally funded) flu jab in pharmacies can access the flu jab from their GP or in Scotland, at a vaccination centre. Speak to a member of our pharmacy team or see boots.com/flu for more details.

Page last reviewed by Boots Pharmacy team on 20/09/2023

Boots understands how important your health is to you and your loved ones, so we've collated all of our immunity health tips and advice in one place. Explore all the health advice for immune conditions Boots has to offer right here, including information on how to support your immune system, children's immunity, vaccinations and more.