Defending your child against flu
The nasal spray flu vaccine offered to eligible children, as part of the NHS childhood flu vaccination programme, contains live viruses that have been weakened to help prevent them from causing flu and to help children to build up immunity. It does this in a similar way to natural infection, but without an actual flu infection.1,2 If a child is not eligible for a nasal spray flu vaccine, they may be offered an alternative injectable vaccine.3
- This flu season, the NHS national flu immunisation programme will be extended to more children than ever before.3
- For the first time this year, the immunisation programme in England will include children in school year 6.3
- In England, a nasal spray flu vaccine is available to eligible children aged 2-3 at their GP surgery and in schools for eligible children aged 4-10 on 31 August 2019, in reception class and years 1-6.4 This may vary in some areas throughout the UK.
- Flu viruses change continually, so vaccination is needed every year.2,5
How a nasal spray flu vaccine is given
Is a nasal spray flu vaccine suitable for my child?
And remember, if your child is not eligible for a nasal spray flu vaccine, they may be offered an alternative option.3
Are there side effects?
The flu vaccine for children has been well tolerated by most children but some may experience side-effects.1,2
Very common side-effects may include some loss of appetite, headache, blocked nose, and general tiredness. Common side-effects may include muscle aches and fever.5
Very common side-effects may affect 1 in 10 people, although these are usually mild and short-term in nature.5,7
For more detailed information on side effects, please see the patient information leaflet https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/3296/pil
Is a nasal spray flu vaccine for everyone?
If your child is under 2 or over 18 years they won't be offered this nasal spray.
Remember that children who can’t receive this nasal spray may still be able to have a flu vaccine.
For more information on this nasal spray and to download the Patient Information Leaflet please go to:
Who shouldn't be given this nasal spray flu vaccination?
Talk to your doctor before vaccination if your child:5
- Is allergic to eggs, egg proteins, gentamicin, gelatine or any of the other ingredients of the nasal spray flu vaccine.
- Has a very weak immune system for any reason.
- Has severe asthma or is currently wheezing.
- Is taking aspirin or any medicine that has aspirin in it.
For more information on the nasal spray flu vaccine this season, including a full list of contraindications, please refer to the Patient Information Leaflet:https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/3296/pil
Advice for faith communities
This nasal spray flu vaccine contains a highly processed form of gelatine (porcine, derived from pigs). The full list of vaccine ingredients is found in the Patient Information Leaflet. Please go to: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/3296/pil
Some faith groups accept the use of porcine gelatine in medical products – the decision is, of course, up to you. For further information about porcine gelatine and this nasal flu vaccine, please visit Public Health England information for parents on the flu vaccine and procine gelatine:
- Public Health England, NHS. Protecting your child against flu. Information for parents. Flu immunisation in England. May 2019. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/806857/PHE_Protecting_Child_Against_Flu_leaflet.pdf
- NHS. Vaccinations. Children’s flu vaccine. 8 July 2019. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/child-flu-vaccine/
- Van-Tam J, Deputy Chief Medical Officer et al. The national flu immunisation programme 2019/20. 22 March 2019. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/788903/Annual_national_flu_programme_2019_to_2020_.pdf
- Public Health England. The national childhood flu immunisation programme 2019/20. Training for healthcare professionals. London: Public Health England; 2019. https://publichealthengland-immunisati.app.box.com/s/48xi8ezl0lmifo09qiebpsmzsqc0sib6. Accessed: August 2019.
- Fluenz Tetra Nasal Spray Suspension Influenza Vaccine (live attenuated, nasal). Summary of Product Characteristics. 17 January 2019. https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/3296/smpc
- Public Health England. Surveillance of influenza and other respiratory viruses in the UK. Winter 2018 to 2019. May 2019. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/807472/Surveillance_of_influenza_and_other_respiratory_viruses_in_the_UK_2018_to_2019-FINAL.pdf (Accessed July 2019)
- Fluenz Tetra nasal spray suspension Influenza vaccine (live attenuated, nasal) Patient Information Leaflet. March 2019. https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/files/pil.3296.pdf