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 2022-23, the vaccine will be available free on the NHS for eligible children, including:

  • children aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2022 (these children will be invited for their vaccination via their GP Practice)
  • all primary school children
  • children aged 2 to 17 with long-term health condition 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.
  • children aged 6 months to 2 years and in a high risk group will be offered an injectable flu vaccination. This is because the nasal spray is not licensed for children under the age of 2.

All children with a learning disability are entitled to a free NHS flu vaccination.

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

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 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.

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.

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

Here are some top tips to immunising your child against flu:

  1. Flu spreads easily. Vaccinating your child will help protect you, your family and friends.
  2. The children’s flu vaccination is given as a nasal spray this is quick and painless.
  3. The nasal spray helps project against flu, it has a good safety record and millions of children in the UK have been vaccinated successfully and safely.
  4. If your child is aged 17 and under and attends a mainstream or Special Education Needs School they will be offered the vaccine in school. Please sign the consent form. If they haven’t had the vaccination in school, please contact your GP Practice who will be able to support your child to be immunised.
  5. Vaccinating you and your child against flu will be the best way to protect them to stay well this winter from flu. Remember it is important that carers are also vaccinated against flu to help keep the whole family well. Carers are entitled to a free NHS flu vaccination, speak to your GP Practice.

If you have any questions please speak to your school flu immunisations team or GP.