Has your child had the free flu vaccine?

Has your child been vaccinated against flu this season? It’s not too late for your child to get the flu vaccine this season. Flu can be a horrible illness for young children and hundreds of children have been admitted to hospital with flu already this season. Get your child vaccinated to protect them from getting ill from flu and stop it spreading amongst family and friends. The flu vaccine is free and is given as a quick and easy spray up the nose. Please make an appointment with your GP practice now or, if you child is in primary school, make sure you sign the consent form for your child to get the vaccine in school.

FAQ

Which children can get the Flu Vaccination?

Eligible group

Where to have the flu vaccine

All children from 6 months of age upwards in a clinical risk group

GP practice

All children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2022

GP practice

All children from reception age (aged 4 -5) to school year 6 (aged 10-11) – regardless of educational setting

School and/or community clinics delivered by the School-age Immunisation Service.

What is flu?

Flu is caused by influenza viruses that infect the windpipe and lungs. Flu will often get better on its own, but it can make some people seriously ill. It’s important to get the flu vaccine if you’re advised to. There are several symptoms of flu including a sudden high temperature, an aching body, and a dry cough.

Flu is spread by coughs and sneezes. You can prevent the spread by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and you should wash your hands frequently or use hand gels to reduce the risk of picking up the virus.

The best way to avoid catching and spreading flu is by having the vaccination before the flu season starts.

What should I do if I think my child has flu?

The best way to avoid your child catching and spreading flu is by making sure that they get the vaccination before the flu season starts.

The most common symptoms of flu are:

  • a sudden high temperature
  • an aching body
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • a dry cough
  • a sore throat
  • a headache
  • difficulty sleeping
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea or tummy pain
  • feeling sick and being sick

Most children will get better on their own without any medical treatment. The best thing to do is make sure that they drink plenty of liquid, make sure that they rest and sleep and use recommended infant paracetamol and ibuprofen that is recommended by a pharmacist.

You should seek advice from your GP if your child doesn’t get better after a few days or if their temperature reaches over 39 degrees Celsius. If you’re very concerned about your child trust your instincts and phone your GP or 111 for advice.

Does my child need the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is offered for free on the NHS every year to those that are most at risk of getting seriously ill from flu or who are most likely to pass flu to other people at risk.

Young children that are eligible for the free flu vaccine include:

  • those aged 6 months and over that are in an at-risk group
  • those aged 2 or 3 on 31 August 2022 (born between 1 September 2018 and 31 August 2020)
  • all primary school children

Why should my child get the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. While flu is unpleasant for most people it can be very dangerous and even life-threatening for some people, particularly people with certain health conditions. The flu vaccine can provide protection to those that are most likely to become seriously ill from flu and help reduce the spread of flu in the population.  Any child who catches flu after vaccination is less likely to be seriously ill or be admitted to hospital. It may take around two weeks for the flu vaccine to work.

What flu vaccine will my child be given?

The nasal spray flu vaccine gives children aged 2-17 years old the best protection against flu. The vaccine is given as a spray squirted up each nostril. It’s quick and painless. The vaccine will still work even if your child gets a runny nose, sneezes or blows their nose.

If your child is aged 6 months to 2 years and is in an at risk group, they will be given the injected flu vaccine as the nasal spray is not licensed for use in children aged under 2 years old.

If the nasal spray is not suitable for the child (as it contains a small amount of porcine gelatine) after a discussion with the practice doctor, nurse or school aged immunisation service, they should be offered the injected vaccine.

It may take around 2 weeks for the flu vaccine to work.

Are there any side effects of the children’s flu vaccine?

Flu vaccines are very safe.

Side effects of the nasal spray flu vaccine are mild and do not last long. They include:

  • a runny or blocked nose
  • a headache
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite

For the injected flu vaccine, most side effects are also mild and do not last long. They include:

  • a sore arm (or thigh) where the injection was given
  • a slightly raised temperature
  • aching muscles
  • These side effects usually last for 1 or 2 days.

What if my child is unwell on the day of their flu vaccine appointment?

You may be asked to wait until your child is better before having the nasal spray flu vaccine if they have a very blocked or runny nose as it might stop the vaccine getting into their system or if they have a very high temperature. Sometimes an injected vaccine may be offered instead.

If I had the flu jab last year, do I need to have it again now?

Yes, because the viruses that cause flu change every year. This means the flu (and the vaccine) this year may be different from last year. If your child had the flu vaccine last year and is still eligible for the flu vaccine this year, they will need to have it again this year.

Is there anyone that shouldn’t get the flu vaccine?

Almost all children aged 2 years and over can have the vaccine, but they should not be vaccinated if they have ever had a serious allergy to the vaccine, or any of its ingredients. If your child is allergic to eggs or has a condition that weakens your immune system, they may not be able to have certain types of flu vaccine – check with your immuniser. If your child has a fever, the vaccination may be delayed until you are better.

Where can my child get the flu vaccine?

Eligible group

Where to have the flu vaccine

All children from 6 months of age upwards in a clinical risk group

GP practice

All children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2022

GP practice

All children from reception age (aged 4 -5) to school year 6 (aged 10-11) – regardless of educational setting

School and/or community clinics delivered by the School-age Immunisation Service.

All children in a clinical risk group can get their flu vaccine at their GP practice. If your child is in a clinical risk group, you do not need to wait for an invite from the School-aged Immunisation Service. Please contact your GP if you would like your child to receive the vaccine earlier in the season.

Children aged 2-3 years old will receive their flu vaccine at their GP practice.

Primary school children in Reception to Year 6 will receive their flu vaccine from the local School-aged Immunisation Service. This will either be in school or at a community clinic. Parents should wait to be invited and complete the necessary consent documentation accordingly.

Home-schooled children and children not in mainstream education should be invited for vaccination by the school-aged immunisation service. If you do not hear from them, ask your Local Authority Education Department about arrangements. 

Patient information leaflets

For more information, you can direct parents to https://www.nhs.uk/child-flu

An array of posters, leaflets, stickers and messaging in accessible formats can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/flu-vaccination-leaflets-and-posters and ordered from www.healthpublications.gov.uk