― Five reasons to get your child vaccinated against flu
― How does a flu vaccine help?
― Is flu serious?
― Which children and young people can have a free flu vaccine?
― Why do children and most young people need a flu vaccine?
― Does the nasal spray flu vaccine have any side effects?
― What if my child has a health condition?
― Young carers
― Do I need to do anything?
― What type of flu vaccine is given to children and young people?
― A cold or other minor illness is not a reason to delay a flu vaccination
― Can my child have the vaccine if they have allergies?
― Can the flu vaccine be given at the same time as other vaccines?
― Does the nasal spray vaccine contain gelatine?
― Where can I get more information?
The vaccine will help protect your child against serious complications from flu, such as pneumonia.
Vaccinating your child against flu will help protect others, especially if they are vulnerable to complications from flu.
Most children find the nasal spray is quick and painless and are not upset afterwards.
Flu is unpleasant and can be serious for some children. Flu vaccines are safe and have been given to millions of children worldwide.
When children get flu they miss school or important opportunities to develop, and parents may need to take time off work or make other childcare arrangements.
Having a flu vaccine will help protect your child from flu. Most children and young people have their vaccine as a quick and painless nasal spray.
Protection starts around two weeks after having the vaccine. The vaccine usually offers children good protection against flu.
It also helps reduce the chance of children and young people spreading flu to others who are at greater risk from flu, such as babies, older people, and those with long-term health conditions.
Some people still get flu even after having a flu vaccine, but often with milder symptoms. Flu vaccines do not protect against colds, other respiratory viruses or other winter illnesses.
Flu can be serious for children. Like COVID-19 it is caused by a virus, and some children can develop serious complications such as bronchitis, pneumonia and ear infections. Most years some children in Wales will need treatment in intensive care because of flu.
All children aged two or three (age on 31 August 2023), and schoolchildren from reception class up to and including year 11, will be offered a nasal spray flu vaccine this autumn or winter.
It is especially important that children and young people aged between six months and 17 years who have a long-term health condition get vaccinated, as they are at a greater risk of complications than other children if they catch flu.
This winter we may see COVID-19 and flu circulating at the same time, so it’s very important for your child to get protected against flu.
Having a flu vaccine every year is one of the best ways to protect against flu.
For the latest information, visit phw.nhs.wales/fluvaccine.
All children from the age of two can have a free flu vaccine in 2023/2024. This includes:
Like COVID-19, flu is caused by a virus that can spread easily to other people. Anyone can get flu, but children have the highest rate of infection and flu can be serious for them.
For a day or two after their vaccination, some children and young people may:
Children and young people who need a flu vaccine injection may also have a sore arm for a day or two after their vaccination.
Flu vaccines are very safe and other reactions are less common. The flu vaccine will not cause flu.
You can report suspected side effects of the vaccines through the Yellow Card scheme. You can do this online at www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard or by calling 0800 731 6789 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
If your child is six months or older and has one of the following health conditions, it is important they have a flu vaccine every year, as they are at greater risk of complications from flu.
Children in these groups may get their vaccine at school (up to year 11) or at their GP surgery.
It is extra important that children and young people who care for someone who is vulnerable to flu and its complications have a flu vaccine every year. It helps protect them and also the person they care for.
Children who are aged two or three (age on 31 August 2023) are usually invited to have their flu vaccine at their GP surgery.
In some areas, three-year-olds and some four-year-olds are offered their flu vaccine in nursery.
If your child is in this age group and hasn’t received an invitation for their flu vaccine by mid-November, contact their GP surgery.
Children in school are given information and a consent form by the school and will usually have their flu vaccine in school. Please read the information and return the form as soon as possible.
If your child is aged four or older and not in school, contact their GP surgery so they can get their flu vaccine.
If your child is under two, or aged 16 or 17, and is at greater risk of complications from flu due to a health condition, their GP surgery should invite them to have their vaccine.
Ideally, the flu vaccine should be given before flu starts to circulate in the community. However, it can still be given at a later date.
Most children and young people will get their flu vaccine as a painless nasal spray, as this is the best flu vaccine for them. The vaccine is a fine mist that is sprayed up the nose from the tip of each nostril. It can be given from the age of two. Most children are not upset after receiving a flu nasal spray.
If your child misses their flu vaccine, speak to their school nurse, health visitor, GP or practice nurse about getting the vaccine.
The nasal spray vaccine can’t be given to children and young people who are:
The nasal spray vaccine can’t be given to anyone who has:
Most children and young people who can’t have the nasal spray vaccine can have a flu vaccine injection at their GP surgery instead.
Children and young people with asthma who need regular oral steroids or have needed intensive-care treatment for their asthma in the past should be referred to a specialist for advice about receiving the nasal spray vaccine. They may need a flu vaccine injection instead.
If your child is having a cochlear implant in the week before their nasal spray vaccination appointment or is due to have the vaccination in the two weeks after having their implant, speak to your health visitor, school nurse, GP or practice nurse for more advice.
If your child is unwell with a high temperature it is best to delay their vaccination until they are feeling better.
If your child cannot avoid contact with someone who has severely weakened immunity, such as someone who has recently had a bone marrow transplant, you should discuss this with your health visitor, school nurse, GP or practice nurse before your child has the nasal spray vaccine. They may decide to offer your child a flu vaccine injection instead.
Most children can have a flu vaccine if they have allergies. The person giving the vaccine will check it is safe to give.
Most children and young people who are allergic to egg can receive the vaccine with no problems. The small number of people who have previously needed intensive-care treatment for anaphylaxis (a rare, life-threatening allergic reaction) can be offered a flu vaccine injection instead.
Yes, the flu vaccine can be given at the same time as most other vaccines. Speak to your health visitor, school nurse, GP or practice nurse for more advice.
Yes, it contains small traces of highly purified porcine gelatine, which is also used in a range of essential medicines.
The nasal spray vaccine is the best flu vaccine for children and young people. But flu injections do not contain gelatine, so if you would prefer your child to have the injection instead, contact their GP surgery so they don’t miss out.
If you have any questions or want more information, you can visit 111.wales.nhs.uk, talk to your doctor or nurse or call NHS 111 Wales on 111.
You can find out more information on vaccines offered in Wales at: phw.nhs.wales/vaccines.
You can find out more about the nasal spray flu vaccine, including its contents and possible side effects, in the patient leaflet at medicines.org.uk/emc. You will need to enter ‘Fluenz Tetra’ in the search box. You can also see the patient information leaflet online.
You can report suspected side effects online at www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard or by downloading the Yellow Card app or calling 0800 731 6789 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
A schedule showing which immunisations are routinely offered in Wales is available from: phw.nhs.wales/CompleteSchedule.
For vaccine information in other formats, such as large print, visit: phw.nhs.wales/vaccines/accessible-information.
To find out how the NHS uses your information, visit: 111.wales.nhs.uk/AboutUs/Yourinformation.
© Public Health Wales, June 2023 (with acknowledgement to UK Health Security Agency)