Children's nasal flu vaccination
The children's nasal flu vaccination is offered as a yearly nasal spray to young children to protect them against flu. Flu can be a very unpleasant illness for children with potentially serious complications, including bronchitis and pneumonia.
How is the nasal spray 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.
Are there any children who should delay having the nasal spray flu vaccine?
Children should have their nasal spray flu vaccination delayed if they:
- Have a runny or blocked nose
- Are wheezy
If a child has a heavily blocked or runny nose, it might stop the vaccine getting into their system. In this case, their flu vaccination should be postponed until their nasal symptoms have cleared up. If a child is wheezy or has been wheezy in the past week, their vaccination should be postponed until they have been wheeze-free for at least three days.
Are there any children who should not have the nasal spray flu vaccine?
There are a few children who should avoid the nasal spray flu vaccine. The vaccine is not recommended for children who have:
- A severely weakened immune system
- Severe egg allergy
- Severe asthma – that is, those being treated with steroid tablets or high-dose inhaled steroids
- An allergy to any of the vaccine ingredients, such as neomycin
Children unable to have the nasal spray vaccine may be able to have the injectable flu vaccine instead.
Why children are offered flu vaccine
Flu is a very common infection in babies and children. It can be very unpleasant for them. Children with flu have the same symptoms as adults – including fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and a sore throat lasting up to a week. Some children develop a very high fever or complications of flu, such as bronchitis, pneumonia and a painful middle ear infection.
They may need hospital treatment, and very occasionally a child may die from flu. In fact, healthy children under the age of five are more likely to have to be admitted to hospital with flu than any other age group. For children with long-term health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease or lung disease, getting flu can be very serious as they are more at risk of developing serious complications.
How safe is the flu vaccine for children?
The children's nasal flu vaccination for children has a good safety record. In the UK, millions of children have been vaccinated safely and successfully.
How does the children's flu vaccine work?
The vaccine contains live but weakened flu viruses that do not cause flu in children. It will help your child build up immunity to flu in a similar way as natural infection, but without the symptoms. Because the main flu viruses change each year, a new nasal spray vaccine has to be given each year, in the same way as the injectable flu vaccine.
Stopping the spread of flu
The nasal spray flu vaccine will not only help protect your child against flu, the infection will also be less able to spread from them to their family, carers and the wider population. Children spread flu because they generally don't use tissues properly or wash their hands. Vaccinating children also protects others that are vulnerable to flu, such as babies, older people, pregnant women and people with serious long-term illnesses.
How many doses of the flu vaccine do children need?
Most children only need a single dose of the nasal spray.
Price: Small charge
Frequency: When required...
Other child vaccinations are available: Page one