Children's flu vaccine side effects

The flu vaccine for children is very safe, 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

The nasal spray flu vaccine has very few side effects, the main one being that children may have a slight runny nose for a short time. Other possible side effects include:

  • high temperature
  • headache
  • feeling slightly unwell
  • 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. Remember, catch it, bin it, kill it.

If your child develops a fever after their flu vaccination, keep them cool by:

  • making sure they don't have too many layers of clothes or blankets on
  • giving them cool drinks

You could also give them infant paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce their fever. Read more about medicines for children.

If you're worried about your child, trust your instincts and speak to your doctor or call NHS 111.

Call the doctor immediately if, at any time, your child:

  • has a temperature of 39 degrees C or above, or
  • has a fit

Read more about vaccine side effects in babies

This NHS leaflet tells you about the common vaccination reactions in babies and young children up to five years of age

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.

Page last reviewed: 10/07/2015

Next review due: 10/07/2016


How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 84 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating


The 31 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Zoe_s86 said on 04 November 2015

My son had the vaccination 2 weeks ago and is still ill. I am angry because I initially said no but the school nurse pressurized me into having it done by ringing me. I wish I had stuck to my guns. He's had a fever, cough really bad, aching muscles, tiredness, bad belly, sticky eyes, grumpy, snotty nose nose. I am taking him to the docs as he hasn't improved . never again!

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Miss kp said on 29 October 2015

My identical twin daughters had theirs at the same time. I have one twin who is absolutely fine and one who is super tired, no appetite and runny nose and cough. They've not long been poorly. So I feel perhaps next year I may just skip it

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

letsBreasonable said on 10 February 2015

What's the point in taking a vaccine that makes you ill? If you are an at risk person it makes much more sense to avoid the risk of side effects.

The flu virus changes all the time too, so it's unlikely you'll meet anyone with the strain you've been vaccinated against. It's all a massive money making business. I refuse to have it myself despite being eligible and I will not allow my kids to have it either. And I've not had flu for years whereas I stand a v good chance of falling ill if I take it! Crazy.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Alexandrajaneuk said on 12 December 2014

My 5 y.o. Son has the flu vaccine on Tuesday afternoon, was fine for a couple of days and last night complained of being freezing when he got home from school. Since then he's had a very restless night and now has a high temperature and body aches.
I appreciate that this is more than likely his body producing the antibodies against the virus but to simply state the fact that 'most children do not experience any side effects other than a runny nose' seems to be a complete fallacy.
No wonder people don't trust the information they are given when the likes of Dr Hilary et al appear on morning tv to the mums and dads telling them to go and get the vaccine, there are no side effects because they know if they told the truth no one would have it.
I will see how my son progresses over the next couple of days but it doesn't fill me with confidence at getting it next year.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

VickyB82 said on 27 November 2014

My 4 year old little girl got the flu nasal spray on Monday 17th November and initially had no reaction but by the Wednesday her nose had started running and she had very chesty cough which got worse at night when she went to bed, she was also sneezing continually with lots of not (sorry for TMI), the runny nose and cough are continuing and this morning she woke up and vomited - just the once- and was complaining of a sore head, throat, neck, arms and back on and off and chills. I don't think this was a virus as she was in good form and hungry (asking for chocolate). She is generally a very healthy child and only would have the odd cold every now and then. My aunt came over and said that another aunt of mine had got the vaccine and her side effects from the vaccine were the same as Abigail's and hers appeared over a week later, she has also known others whose side-effect haven't appeared until over a week later and they are so bad they can't get out of bed. I was dubious about getting the vaccine as was my husband but wanted to get it as Abigail was miserable with flu like symptoms and an ear infection last Christmas so wanted to prevent that and also friends' children have had the vaccine with no ill effects but never again will I allow Abigail or my younger daughter get this vaccine.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Gardentime said on 19 November 2014

My 7yr old son had the nasal spray at 4.30pm today. By the time we got home 15 minutes later he felt so bad he couldn't even get his shoes off. He complained of pain in his neck so gave him calpol. He then lay on the settee trying to stay awake but by 5.30pm he was fast asleep. He's now in bed as its cooler upstairs. He's very hot and his nose is running in his sleep. I just hope he feels better tomorrow.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

tammy74 said on 30 October 2014

My 17 yr old daughter has just had the nazel spray as she has astma , she had it about 10.30 this morning , she is already in pain and has a really bad headache , she has taken painkillers and has been in bed for over a hour , I will keep you updated as I dont recommend this at all.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Belle12 said on 29 October 2014

My 13 year old daughter was offered the flu vaccination, nasal spray, 2 weeks ago when she went for teenage boosters. The nurse said it was advisable as she has asthma. 12 days after she came down with high temp, 40 plus, loss of appetite, shivers, aching all over and slept for 48 hours. I could wring her bed sheets out they were that wet, she also had severe headache. Just like having the flu. I have never known her so poorly - she is now absolutely drained. I will not allow her to have vaccination again. Maybe a case of too many vaccinations at one time - but was told by nurse it would not overload her system, or just a reaction to flu nasal spray but it was no mild reaction. Never ever again.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

mum of four said on 25 October 2014

My now 4 year old had the nasal spray last yr and has had it again this year. Last year after a few days of a runny nose and aslight temp, he had healthwise one of the best years since he was about 6 months old. Prior to having the nasal spray last year the previous winter seasons he was really bad with flu like illnesses ended up with inhalers etc. Last year I don't think he even had a sniffle only thing that sticks out illness wise is chickenpox at easter. My 2 yr old has also had the flu spray this time and he has always been in perfect health will be interesting to see if the same applies this year. Have everything crossed that it does

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Daniilee said on 19 October 2014

Badan, my daughter who is 2 and half also had the nasal vaccine done yesterday, and a few hours later I noticed blister like spots come up along her jawline, and her chest and back, and was also wondering if it was to do with the vaccine or something else. The ones along her jawline have gone down but the ones on her chest and back are still there. After seeing your response on here no more inclined to think if its the vaccine x

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Badan said on 18 October 2014

My 2 year old son had the nasal vaccine done this morning and I noticed whole his body appears a lots of little red spots like chickenpox I'm now just so confused don't know whether could be the jab be a cause of his skin rash or there is a chickenpox ( but he had chickenpox last year already) if anyone know please Help! Many thanks

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

BecomingaSAHM said on 13 October 2014

Just wanted to say that after reading these comments I was slightly concerned but my 2 year old had the spray a few days ago and had NO side effects at all. He was a little grumpy the day after, but with a 2 yr old its hard to tell why that was. He had no sickness, no loss of appetite and not even the runny nose they warn you about.

All kids are different so I guess some may have different reactions to things but I think if you're concerned, talk to your Dr rather than read scare stories on here

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

lookingintothefacts said on 10 October 2014

My 12 year old son has had a letter regarding this vaccine next Friday and if the government are involved always research the facts beforehand and don't just follow like other sheep. Having now read the comments below I will not be letting him have the vaccine as the "no side effects" comments never convince me!!!

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

hassan365 said on 05 October 2014

I am 12 years old and I had the flue vaccine. I wish I would have known the side effects because 1 day after the vaccine I have a really bad runny nose its like water. Also I've got a headache and and a flue ! I wish I never had it !

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

mum_mish said on 03 October 2014

Hi, my 6 yr old daughter had a terrible experience after this nasal flu vaccination. The day after she got it at school she had a very runny nose (which I sort of expected) and also sneezing. But the 2nd day when she woke up, she could barely open her eyes, they were so swollen and seeping watery fluid. So we went to A+E They said it was a bad reaction to the spray. Later that night, she came out with a very itchy uncomfortable rash, like nettle stings all over her body. I had to give her antihistamines for the 1st time ever. My 2 yr old son is meant to be getting this spray next week but im seriously thinking not to let him get it after how bad my daughter was. I am about to wake her up now and I'm praying there is no more side effects. As she is normally very healthy and active. Fingers crossed and I hope no other child has to go through what my daughter did.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Shanee said on 01 October 2014

Dear Karlos

I must point out that you are trying to better inform yourself you are unfortunately misinterpreting the information you have read.

Kathryn is indeed correct- the vast majority of children won't have any problems at all, this is because 'very common' side effects are experienced by 10% and 'common' side effects by 1-10% therefore the majority population won't have any issues.

Personally, my son who seems to catch everything going didn't suffer any side effects from the flu spray and had a much healthier winter last year with fewer bugs and of less severity

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Karlos F said on 14 September 2014

Dear Kathryn at NHS Choices,

Your statement that "the vast majority of children won’t have any problems at all" is factually incorrect.

The manufacturers information on side effects can be found here which states that side effects such as runny or stuffed nose, reduced appetite, weakness and headache are very common. Fever and muscle aches are classed as common symptoms.

I am sure that the company wants to show their product in the best possible light but they are required to state this information by law.

Readers should check for themselves as the opinion here is clearly biased.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

vjp1975 said on 14 December 2013

Wish I had researched the nasal flu vaccine before subjecting my 4 year old daughter to this. She had it yesterday a-noon, woke at 4am this morning vomiting which continued until 8am. Shes very unwell, high temp and yellow sticky stuff coming out of her eye and nose. She was absolutely fine before hand and hadn't had a cold this term. I am very disappointed with the NHS. Had I known this reaction was a possibility there's no way I would have agreed to it. My 6 year old son had the injection and apart from a sore arm he's fine.
We've missed swimming lesson, xmas party, haircut and xmas tree buying this weekend as a result of it. She's spent the entire day lying on the sofa watching cbeebies. :-(

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

happilymarried26 said on 13 December 2013

Under no circumstances would I let any child of mine have this vaccine again.

Our son had it in October and has been constantly ill ever since with bad colds, terrible cough like he was coughing his lungs up and generally unwell all the time.

We just want our happy little guy back.

We did a survey on our Facebook business page (over 5000 people) and out of all those people nearly 3500 people have had ill children since having the flu vaccine.

This has been researched in America?
How long has it been researched for in the UK as not everyone in the US can afford to go to the doctor so I feel our children are being used a guinea pigs here.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

redcat10 said on 06 December 2013

My 3year old had the nasal flu spray last night at 630pm, now 6 hours later he's woken up white as a sheet, feeling hot and very sickly. I was told by the nurse there were no side effects for this spray. I've just read some comments here and he could be in for a poorly few days. Great! I've got a 10 week old baby, and a 18 month old at home too. I would've liked more information before agreeing to my little boy having it.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Caldy1972 said on 03 December 2013

Whatever you do, do not subject your child to this nasal spray. My little girl has been ill for nearly a week now with a runny nose, sore throat and a severe cough. The cough is particularly bad at night and has kept the whole house awake. I am gutted that I have basically made her this ill in a futile attempt to prevent her from being ill. How ironic.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

tracievr6 said on 29 November 2013

My daughter had the nasal spray done last Thursday and initially was fine. Come Monday she was vomiting everywhere, a high temp of 40.2, no appetite, hardly passing urine or stools and ended up being hospitalised due to being dehydrated! Never again will I allow her or anyone close to me to have this spray again after seeing how much she has suffered!

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 14 November 2013

Dear Morjo, louloumoore, Crowe89, Ami1980, Darcdiamond999 and laurashep

Sorry to hear your children were unwell after receiving the vaccine. As with all vaccines, a few children will have side effects. However, when deciding whether to have the vaccination it’s important to remember that the nasal spray is very safe and effective and the vast majority of children won’t have any problems at all.

Best wishes,
Kathryn Bingham, NHS Choices editor

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

morjo said on 08 November 2013

My 5 yr old daughter had nasal vaccine on Wednesday 6th Nov at school, she woke up Thursday morning with fever, headache and vomiting, GP confirmed it was a reaction,poor thing is miserable. GP said you were more likely to get a reaction from nasal spray due to type of vaccine it is. I support the flu vaccine to children, but after this experience will not get nasal spray again. My 2yr old had no reaction at all,although most of it dribbled back out his nose! My daughter still has temperature and headache.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

louloumoore said on 06 November 2013

My 3year old had vaccine on Saturday, very irritable on Monday &Tuesday then last night ( Tuesday )she woke up vomitting 4times & has been very unwell, weak, runny nose,high temperature today,loss of appetite too.
I wonder if she was due to get a virus & its just a coincidence. Shame as she had been in great health the lat 4-5months!

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Liset said on 28 October 2013

My 2 year old daughter had it, no problems at all following it. No Temp or anything. They cannot develop flu because of the way it is designed, if its not just side effects chances are they were already coming down with something.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

crowe89 said on 18 October 2013

My daughter had the nasal spray on 17th October at 4pm She woke at 2am with vomitting and vomited every couple of hours since then, her temp seemed fine and she was fine in her self.
I am hoping she will feel better when she wakes up shortly.
She had this last winter through general illness, if this continues like that did i would say there is no point in getting the nasal spray in the first place.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Ami1980 said on 16 October 2013

My daughter had her nasal flu vaccine yes ok she has a sore throat now.but no sore bad arm no negative experience and I would rather poorly with the side effects than flu itself.flu could be really harmful in someone with rough lungs hopefully the throat will not last long and nothing some good fluids and ice cream cannot solve

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

natsJ said on 06 October 2013

My 3 year old daughter had hers yesterday at 9am. She has had none of the expected side effects but she has had a runny tummy a few times, but is still in good spirits, isn't unwell in herself.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Darcdiamond999 said on 02 October 2013

My 7 year old daughter had the flu vaccine yesterday. Six hours later she started having side effects. Woke up around 11pm really unwell, sore throat, sore ears, feeling sick. Paracetamol did nothing to help her symptoms and after two hours I gave her the maximum dose of ibuprofen for her age. Eventually she fell asleep. She is usually a brave wee soul when she has the cold and hardly complains, however last night she was very distressed. Won't be giving the flu vaccine to her again. My son was also vaccinated yesterday and I hope he isn't going to suffer the same as she has. Wish I hadn't given it to either of them.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

laurashep said on 28 September 2013

My daughter had the nasual spray on Wed and has been unwell since then! She had the spray at 10.30 and by 11.30 started to have alot of wind, didnt want any dinner and went to bed.Woke at 2am with vomitting, seemed to perk up slightly in the morning but had complete loss of appetite again and was vomitting three times in the evening! Friday she was very quiet and lathergic and slept for four hours in the afternoon was not sick in the evening but still has lost appertite and vomitted what she had for dinner tonight! I regret giving her this nasual spray as she is hardly ever ill and this is the worst she has ever been! I feel terrible guilty and hope that she is through the worst! I will b avoiding this spray from now on!x

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Vaccine side effects

What to do if you or your family suffers a side effect after a vaccination, and how you can report the side effect

Is vaccination safe?

The safety checks performed on vaccines before and after their development