Children's flu vaccine
The children's flu vaccine is offered as a yearly nasal spray to young children to help protect them against flu.
Flu can be a very unpleasant illness for children, with potentially serious complications, including bronchitis and pneumonia.
At what age should children have the nasal spray flu vaccine?
In the autumn/winter of 2018/19, the vaccine will be available free on the NHS for eligible children, including:
- children aged 2 and 3 on August 31 2018 – that is, children born between September 1 2014 and August 31 2016
- children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
- in some parts of the country, all primary school-aged children will be offered the vaccine (following a pilot in some areas)
- children aged 2 to 17 with long-term health conditions
Who will give the children's flu vaccination?
Children aged 2 and 3 will be given the vaccination at their general practice, usually by the practice nurse.
Children who are 4 years old are also eligible for flu vaccination provided they were 3 on August 31 2018. These children should be offered the vaccination at their general practice.
Children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 will be offered their vaccination in school. In a couple of areas it might be offered in primary care settings.
Children at higher risk from flu
Children aged 2 to 17 with long-term health conditions such as diabetes are at higher risk from flu.
It's especially important that they are vaccinated with the annual flu nasal spray instead of the annual flu jab, which they were previously given.
Children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years who are at high risk from flu are offered the annual flu jab, usually at their GP surgery.
What are the side effects of the flu vaccine for children?
The nasal spray flu vaccine has few side effects – most commonly getting a runny nose after vaccination for a few days.
How is the nasal spray flu vaccine given?
The vaccine is given as a single spray squirted up each nostril. Not only is it needle-free – a big advantage for children – the nasal spray is quick, painless, and works even better than the injected flu vaccine.
The vaccine is absorbed very quickly. It will still work even if, after the vaccination, your child develops a runny nose, sneezes or blows their nose