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Children's flu vaccine FAQs

Does my child have to have the nasal spray flu vaccine?

No. As with all immunisations, flu vaccinations for children are optional.

Remember, though, that this vaccine will help protect them against what can be an unpleasant illness, as well as stopping them spreading flu to vulnerable friends and relatives.

Find out more about flu

Why can under-2s not have a nasal spray flu vaccine?

The nasal spray vaccine is not licensed for children younger than 2 because it can be linked to wheezing in children this age.

Why is it just younger children who are routinely given the nasal spray flu vaccine?

The children's flu vaccination programme has been rolled out in stages, starting with the youngest first.

This year (2019-20) it's routinely being offered to all children aged 2 and 3 (on 31 August 2019), plus all children in primary school.

All children with a health condition that puts them at greater risk from flu should have a flu vaccination every year from the age of 6 months onwards.

Most will have the nasal spray vaccine, but it should not be given to children under the age of 2 years or the small number of older children who cannot have it. These children will be offered an injected vaccine.

Why are children not being given the injected flu vaccine instead of a nasal spray?

The nasal spray flu vaccine is more effective than the injected flu vaccine, so it's the preferred option.

Will the flu vaccine give my child flu?

No. The vaccine contains viruses that have been weakened to prevent them causing flu.

Does the nasal vaccine contain pork?

Yes, the nasal spray contains a highly processed form of gelatine (porcine gelatine), which is used in a range of essential medicines.

The gelatine helps to keep the vaccine viruses stable so the vaccine provides the best protection against flu.

Find out more about how and why porcine gelatine is used in vaccines (PDF, 76kb)

Can my child have the injected vaccine that does not contain gelatine instead?

The nasal vaccine provides good protection against flu, particularly in young children.

It also reduces the risk to, for example, a baby brother or sister who's too young to be vaccinated, as well as other family members (for example, grandparents) who may be more vulnerable to the complications of flu.

The injected vaccine is not being offered to healthy children as part of the children's flu vaccination programme.

But if your child is at high risk from flu because of 1 or more medical conditions or treatments and cannot have the nasal flu vaccine, they should have the flu vaccine by injection.

Some faith groups accept the use of porcine gelatine in medical products. The decision is, of course, up to you.

Read more questions and answers about the nasal spray vaccine and porcine gelatine (PDF, 181kb)

Page last reviewed: 16 July 2019
Next review due: 16 July 2022