Which children can have the flu vaccine?

An annual flu vaccine for children is available on the NHS from autumn 2015 for all two, three and four year olds.

Eligible children are those aged two, three and four on August 31 1 2015. That is, children with a date of birth on or after September 1 2010 and on or before August 31 2013.

The flu vaccine for children, which is given as a nasal spray, will also be offered to children in years one and two of primary school. In some parts of the country, all primary school children will also be offered the vaccine.

Most children will receive their flu vaccination at school, although in some areas it may be through alternative schemes such as community pharmacies and general practice.

Over time, potentially all children between the ages of two and 16 could be vaccinated each year against flu using the nasal spray.

Children with long-term health conditions

Children aged two to 17 who are at extra risk from flu because they have a long-term health condition, such as diabetes, heart or lung disease, will have the annual flu nasal spray instead of the annual flu jab, which they were previously given.

Children at extra risk between the ages of six months and two years will continue to receive the annual flu jab.

Which children should delay having the nasal spray flu vaccine?

If a child has a heavily blocked or runny nose at the time of vaccination, it might stop the vaccine getting into their system, so it’s best to postpone the flu vaccination until their nasal symptoms have cleared up.

If a child is wheezy or has been wheezy in the past week, vaccination should be delayed until they have been free from wheezing for at least three days.

Which children should NOT have the nasal spray flu vaccine?

The nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended for children who have:

  • severe asthma and are being treated with oral steroids or high dose inhaled steroids
  • a severely weakened immune system
  • severe egg allergy
  • an allergy to any of the vaccine ingredients, such as neomycin 

There’s a small risk that the viruses in the nasal spray may be harmful to other people who have severely weakened immune systems (who will be in protective isolation at home or hospital). This is because there's a very small chance that the vaccine virus may pass to them.

For children in this situation, it may be possible for them to have the injectable flu vaccine instead.

Find out which flu vaccine (injectable or nasal spray) your child should have.

Read answers to the most common questions that parents have about the flu vaccine for children.

Page last reviewed: 10/07/2015

Next review due: 10/07/2016


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NHS childhood vaccination programme

Find out which vaccinations are offered to all children on the NHS and at what age, and the optional vaccinations for at-risk children

Who should have a flu jab?

Certain people need a flu jab, including over-65s; very overweight people; anyone with a long term health condition and pregnant women