Vaccinations

Children's flu vaccine FAQs

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. Which is very important this year as we expect to see flu and COVID-19 both circulating this winter.

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?

This year (2020/21) it is routinely being offered to all children aged two and three years old (age on 31 August 2020), plus all children in primary school (reception class to school year 6).

Children from six months of age with a health condition that puts them at increased risk from complications of flu should have a free flu vaccine each year. 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 a flu injection 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
  • severe asthma recently treated with oral steroids
  • 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.

Children with asthma who take regular oral steroids or have needed intensive-care treatment for their asthma should be referred to a specialist for advice.  

Children with a severe egg allergy which has previously required intensive care treatment should be referred to a specialist. 

There are traces of highly purified porcine gelatine in the flu nasal spray vaccine. If the parent of an eligible child declines the nasal spray vaccine due to its gelatine content, they may request a flu vaccine injection at their child’s GP surgery for them 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 gelatine?

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. 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?

If the parent of an eligible child declines the nasal spray vaccine due to its gelatine content, they may request a flu vaccine injection at their child’s GP surgery for them instead.

Leaflets

Click here to see all vaccination leaflets.

Video

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


Last Updated: 01/04/2017 09:00:00
The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk