Flu Immunisation

The children’s flu vaccine is offered as a yearly nasal spray to young children to help protect them against flu.

Flu can be a very unpleasant illness for children, with potentially serious complications, including bronchitis and pneumonia.

At what age should children have the nasal spray flu vaccine?

In the autumn/winter of 2019-20, the vaccine will be available free on the NHS for eligible children, including:

  • children aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2019 – that is, children born between 1 September 2015 and 31 August 2017
  • all primary school children
  • children aged 2 to 17 with long-term health conditions

Who will give the children’s flu vaccination?

Children aged 2 and 3 will be given the vaccination at their general practice, usually by the practice nurse.

Children who are 4 years old are also eligible for flu vaccination provided they were 3 on 31 August 2019.

These children should be offered the vaccination at their general practice.

Primary school children will be offered their vaccination in school. In a couple of areas, it might be offered in primary care settings.

Children who are home educated will also be offered the vaccine, provided they’re in an eligible age group.

Parents can get information about how to arrange this from their local NHS England Public Health Commissioning team.

Children at higher risk from flu

Children with long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, serious heart conditions, underlying neurological problems and kidney or liver disease, are at higher risk from flu.

They’re more likely to get severely ill if they catch flu and it could make their existing condition worse. This means it’s especially important that they’re vaccinated.

If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years old and is in a high-risk group for flu, they’ll be offered an injected flu vaccine.

This is because the nasal spray is not licensed for children under the age of 2.

Some children over the age of 2 who are in a high-risk group will also need to have an injected vaccine if the nasal spray vaccine is not suitable for them.

What are the side effects of the flu vaccine for children?

The nasal spray flu vaccine has few side effects, most commonly getting a runny nose after the vaccination for a few days.

Find out more about the side effects of the flu vaccine for children

How to get the flu vaccine for your child

Your child’s GP or school should contact you about getting them vaccinated.

Talk to the GP, practice nurse or your child’s school nurse if you want more information about when and how your child will be vaccinated against flu.

How is the nasal spray flu 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’ll still work even if, after the vaccination, your child develops a runny nose, sneezes or blows their nose.

Read the patient information leaflet for the nasal spray flu vaccine (PDF, 238kb)

For more information about Flu Immunisation, please see:

All about flu and how to stop getting it