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Children's flu vaccine side effects

The flu vaccine for children has a good safety record but like all vaccines, some children may experience side effects. The side effects linked with the flu nasal spray vaccine are almost always mild and short-lived.

Common side effects of the flu nasal spray vaccine

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

Rare side effects of the flu nasal spray vaccine

As with all vaccines, there's a very small chance of a severe allergic reaction (known medically as anaphylaxis). The overall rate of anaphylaxis after vaccination is around one in 900,000 (so slightly more common than one in a million).

Anaphylaxis is very serious but it can be treated with adrenaline. When it happens, it does so within a few minutes of the vaccination. Staff who give vaccinations have all been trained to spot and deal with anaphylactic reactions and children recover completely with treatment.

What to do if your child has a side effect from the flu nasal spray vaccine

If your child has a runny nose after their flu vaccination, simply wipe their nose with a tissue and then discard it.

Serious side effects are uncommon, but if you're worried about your child, trust your instincts and speak to your doctor or call NHS 111.

This NHS leaflet tells you about common vaccination reactions in babies and young children up to five years of age (PDF, 118kb).

What if my child has to have the injected flu vaccine?

Some children can't have the nasal spray flu vaccine and are offered the injected flu vaccine instead.

Children having the injected vaccine may get a sore arm at the injection site, a mild fever and aching muscles for a day or two after the vaccination.

How to report a suspected vaccine side effect

The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from a vaccine. It's run by a medicines safety watchdog called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and it's a good way to of monitoring a vaccine's safety.

Find out how to report a vaccine side effect.

Read more about the children's flu vaccine.

Page last reviewed: 10/07/2016

Next review due: 10/07/2019


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