Vaccinations
NHS Choices

Children's flu vaccine FAQs

Does my child have to have a flu vaccine? 

Why can't children under-two have the nasal spray flu vaccine? 

Why is it just younger children routinely being given a flu vaccine? 

How many doses of the nasal spray flu vaccine do children need?

Why aren't children being vaccinated with the flu injection instead of the nasal spray? 

Are there any children who aren't suitable for the nasal spray flu vaccine? 

How do I arrange for my child to have the flu vaccine? 

Will the flu vaccine give my child flu?  

Does the nasal spray vaccine contain pork?

Can my child have the injected vaccine that doesn’t contain gelatine instead?

Does my child have to have a flu vaccine?

No. As with all immunisations, flu vaccinations for children are optional but strongly recommended. Remember, this vaccine will protect them from what can be an unpleasant illness, as well as reducing the chances them spreading flu to vulnerable friends and relatives.

Read more about flu.

Why can’t children under-two have a nasal spray flu vaccine?

The nasal spray vaccine, Fluenz® Tetra, isn’t licensed for children younger than two because it is linked to increased wheezing in children this age.

Why are only younger children routinely being given a flu vaccine?

The children’s flu vaccination programme is being rolled out in stages.

This year (2019/20) it is routinely being offered to all children aged two and three years old (age on 31 August 2019), plus all children in primary school (reception class to school year 6).

All children with a health condition that puts them at increased risk from complications of flu should have a free flu vaccine each year from six months onwards. Eligible children under two years will be given a flu vaccine injection, as they can’t have the nasal spray.

How many doses of the flu vaccine do children need?

Most eligible children only need a single dose of flu vaccine each year.

The patient information leaflet provided with Fluenz® Tetra suggests children should be given two doses of this vaccine if they've not had a flu vaccine before. However, the NHS vaccination programme advises that healthy children only need a single dose of Fluenz® Tetra, as a second dose provides little additional protection.

Children aged two to nine years, who are at risk of flu because of a health condition or treatment and who have not received a flu vaccine before, should have two doses of Fluenz ® Tetra (given at least four weeks apart).

Why aren’t children being given the injected flu vaccine instead of a nasal spray?

The nasal spray flu vaccine is more effective than the injected flu vaccine in children aged two and over.

Is the nasal flu vaccine suitable for all children?

Nasal spray flu vaccine is not suitable for children aged under two years old.

Nasal spray flu vaccine isn’t suitable for a small number of children, including those with:

  • a severely weakened immune system
  • a severe egg allergy which has previously required intensive care
  • severe asthma recently treated with oral steroids
  • asthma that has needed intensive care
  • active wheezing at the time of vaccination or in the previous 72 hours
  • increased the use of their asthma inhalers in the previous 3 days
  • a condition that requires salicylate treatment
  • an allergy to any of the vaccine ingredients - such as neomycin

These children may be able to have the injectable flu vaccine instead.

How do I arrange for my child to have a flu vaccine?

Depending on their age, you should be contacted about your child’s flu vaccination by their GP surgery or their school.

If your child is not yet in school talk to your GP surgery.

If your child is in school talk to your child’s school nurse for more information about when your child will get their vaccine.

Will the flu vaccine give my child flu?

No. The vaccine contains viruses that have been weakened to prevent them causing flu. After having the nasal spray, your child will build up resistance to flu, just as they would naturally after having the illness.

 Does the nasal spray vaccine contain pork?

The nasal spray flu vaccine contains traces of a highly processed form of gelatine derived from pigs. This means that some parents may be concerned about their child having the nasal spray vaccine on ethical or religious grounds. Opinion does differ within individual faiths on this matter. For example, most, but not all, Jewish authorities agree that medicines containing ingredients derived from pork may be taken in the form of an injection or a nasal spray.

The final decision about whether to have your child vaccinated is yours. In order to come to an informed decision you may wish to consider the advantages and disadvantages of having your child vaccinated and you may wish to discuss this with your faith leaders or other community leaders before deciding on this matter.

Can my child have the injected vaccine that doesn’t contain gelatine instead?

The flu vaccine injection is available as an alternative for children who are at higher risk of complications from flu due to a health problem.

Leaflets

Click here to see all vaccination leaflets.

 

Video

To watch the Beat Flu Protect your child 2017-18 video - click here

 


Last Updated: 16/10/2019 13:15:12