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Children's flu vaccine

  • The children's nasal spray flu vaccine is safe and effective. It's offered every year to children to help protect them against flu.

    Flu is caused by the influenza virus. It can be a very unpleasant illness for children. It can also lead to serious problems, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

    Children can catch and spread flu easily. Vaccinating them also protects others who are vulnerable to flu, such as babies and older people.


    If you have any questions about vaccinations, you can:

    Important:Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

    Routine vaccinations for babies, pre-school children and adults are continuing as normal.

    It's important to go to your appointments unless you, your child or someone you live with has symptoms of COVID-19.

    If your child has missed any of their other vaccinations, contact their GP surgery to book an appointment.

    Who should have the nasal spray flu vaccine

    The nasal spray flu vaccine is free on the NHS for:

    • children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2021 – born between 1 September 2017 and 31 August 2019
    • all primary school children (reception to year 6)
    • all year 7 to year 11 children in secondary school
    • children aged 2 to 17 years with long-term health conditions

    If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years and has a long-term health condition that makes them at higher risk from flu, they'll be offered a flu vaccine injection instead of the nasal spray.

    This is because the nasal spray is not licensed for children under 2 years.

    The nasal spray vaccine offers the best protection for children aged 2 to 17 years. They will be offered the flu vaccine injection if the nasal spray vaccine is not suitable for them.

    Children who should have the flu vaccine injection

    COVID-19 vaccine for children

    Some children may be eligible for both the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine. These are 2 different vaccines and consent needs to be given for each one.

    It's safe for children to get both vaccines at the same time.

    Find out more about the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15

    Children with long-term health conditions

    Children with long-term health conditions, such as diabetes or heart problems, are at higher risk from flu.

    It's important they're vaccinated.

    Examples of long-term health conditions

    Where to have the flu vaccine

    A table showing a child's age and where the flu vaccine is available on the NHS.Child's ageWhere to have the flu vaccine
    From 6 months until 2 years
    (with long-term condition)
    GP surgery
    From 2 years until child
    starts primary school
    GP surgery
    All children at primary school School
    Year 7 to year 11 secondary school children School
    Children in reception to year 11
    (with long-term condition)
    School or GP surgery
    Home-schooled children
    (same ages as reception to year 11)
    Community clinic

    Home-schooled children should be invited for vaccination by the local healthcare team. If you do not hear from them, ask your child's GP where they should go for vaccination.

    Schoolchildren with a long-term health condition

    You can ask the GP surgery to give the vaccine instead of having it at school if you prefer.

    If your child is not in reception to year 11, ask the GP surgery to give the vaccine.

    Important:What if my child is unwell on the day?

    You may be asked to wait until your child is better before having the nasal spray flu vaccine if they have:

    • a very blocked or runny nose – these might stop the vaccine getting into their system
    • a high temperature

    How the nasal spray flu vaccine is given

    The vaccine is given as a spray squirted up each nostril. It's quick and painless.

    The vaccine will still work even if your child gets a runny nose, sneezes or blows their nose.

    Your child will be given 2 doses if they're under 9 years old and have both:

    • a long-term health condition that means they're more at risk from flu
    • never had a flu vaccine before

    These doses are given 4 weeks apart.

    How effective is the nasal spray flu vaccine?

    The nasal spray flu vaccine gives children the best protection against flu.

    It may take around 2 weeks for the flu vaccine to work.

    Any children who catch flu after vaccination are less likely to be seriously ill or be admitted to hospital.

    Side effects of the children's flu vaccine

    The nasal spray flu vaccine for children is very safe. Most side effects are mild and do not last long, such as:

    • a runny or blocked nose
    • a headache
    • tiredness
    • loss of appetite

    If your child has the injected flu vaccine, side effects include:

    • a sore arm (or thigh) where the injection was given
    • a slightly raised temperature
    • aching muscles

    These side effects usually last for a day or 2.

    Allergic reactions to the nasal spray flu vaccine

    What's in the nasal spray flu vaccine?

    The nasal spray flu vaccine contains small amounts of weakened flu viruses. They do not cause flu in children.

    As the main flu viruses can change each year, a new nasal spray vaccine has to be given each year.

    The brand of nasal spray flu vaccine available in the UK is called Fluenz Tetra.

    The nasal spray vaccine contains small traces of pork gelatine. If this is not suitable, speak to your child's nurse or doctor about your options.

    Your child may be able to have an injected vaccine instead.

    You can find a full list of ingredients in the Fluenz Tetra nasal spray patient information leaflet on the emc website.


    Find out more about the injected flu vaccine


Article provided by NHS Choices

See original on NHS Choices

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