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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 of 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.

Which children can have a flu vaccine?

Annual nasal spray flu vaccine will be offered to all children aged two and three years (age on 31st August 2022), plus all children in primary school (reception class to school year 6) as part of the routine NHS childhood vaccination programme.

Children with long term health conditions?

The nasal spray flu vaccine is also recommended for all children?aged two to 17 who are at increased risk of complications of flu because they have a long-term health condition, such as diabetes, heart or lung disease.? 

Children at risk from the complications of flu between the ages of six months and under two years will continue to receive the annual flu 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.

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). This also applies to children who are household contacts of someone who has a weakened immune system (immunosuppressed).

Why aren’t children being given a flu injection instead of a nasal spray?

The nasal spray flu vaccine is more effective than a flu injection 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 aspirin (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 to receive the nasal spray vaccine. They may need to receive an injectable flu vaccine instead.  

Children with a severe egg allergy which has previously required intensive care treatment cannot receive the nasal spray vaccine and will need to receive an egg free injectable flu vaccine instead. 

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 can have a flu vaccine injection at their child’s GP surgery instead.

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Last Updated: 17/02/2022 16:02:42
The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website