How the annual nasal flu vaccine helps your child
The annual flu vaccine can help reduce your child's risk of getting flu over the winter months. It's important to protect your child every year because:
children are two to three times more likely to catch flu than adults
children under five are more likely to be admitted to hospital with flu than any other age group
when children get flu, their symptoms are more severe, last longer and can lead to complications
children remain infectious for longer and are more likely to pass flu to their family and carers
The nasal flu vaccine for children is:
safe and very effective
given as a single dose gently squirted up each nostril
quick and painless as there's no injection involved (children say it tickles)
given annually to protect against the virus strains expected to be circulating that winter
How to get the vaccine for your child
The flu vaccine is recommended for the following children:
Nursery / pre-school children (aged 2, 3 and 4 years old)
To make it easier for parents to get their child protected, nursery / pre-school children aged two, three and four will be offered the flu vaccine at their nursery from 15 October. Alternatively, your child can have the nasal vaccine at their GP surgery. You will not be charged for the visit.
School age children (Reception classes and year groups one up to and including school year 11)
The nasal flu vaccine will be offered in school to all school children in reception classes and year groups one up to and including year 11.
Nasal flu vaccine effectiveness for children
The nasal flu vaccine has been given to children in schools across the UK since 2013.
Evidence of its effectiveness has been demonstrated from its use in areas where the nasal flu vaccine was given in primary schools in pilot areas in 2014/15.
In those areas where children received the nasal flu vaccine, there was a:
- 94% reduction in GP surgery consultations for influenza like illness amongst primary school aged children
- 74% reduction in Accident and Emergency respiratory attendances amongst primary school aged children
- 93% reduction in admissions to hospital for confirmed flu amongst primary school aged children
- 59% reduction in GP consultation rates for influenza like illness amongst adults.
This shows that in addition to providing individual protection to children themselves, the nasal flu vaccination reduces transmission across all age groups.
This, in turn, lessens levels of flu infection overall in the winter and reduces the whole burden of flu across the population.
Evidence summarised by Public Health England each year since has shown the children's nasal flu vaccine provides good protection to children each year.
Children with a long-term medical condition
We recommend the flu vaccine for children with any of the following long-term medical conditions:
- chronic respiratory disease or asthma that requires continuous or repeated use of inhaled or systemic steroids
- chronic heart disease
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease
- chronic neurological disease
- a suppressed immune system due to disease or treatment like chemotherapy
- Asplenia or spleen dysfunction
- a BMI of more than 40
There is no flu vaccine available for children under 6 months.
Nasal flu vaccine safety
The nasal flu vaccine is very safe and effective and has been given to millions of children across the world over the past decade.
Children can’t get flu from the nasal vaccine. The vaccine given up a child's nose is 0.1ml, around 1/50th of a teaspoon of fluid given into each nostril. The fluid is quickly absorbed into the child's nose.
The vaccine does not create an external mist. Others in the room are not at risk when the nasal vaccine is given. The vaccine can only work in the temperature of the nose and cannot work in the air.
There are very few side effects. Some children may have a runny nose for a short time after having the nasal vaccine.
The nasal vaccine brand used is Fluenz. A Fluenz patient information leaflet is on the Medicines.org website. You can find out more about the nasal vaccine for children on the NHS choices website and University of Oxford website.
If you have any questions about the flu vaccine, talk to your GP / Practice Nurse or contact the Immunisation Nurse Specialist on +44 (0) 1534 445790 or send an email:
Email the Immunisation Nurse Specialist