Vaccinations

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 from what can be an unpleasant illness, as well as stopping them spreading flu to vulnerable friends and relatives.

Read more about flu.

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

The nasal spray vaccine isn't 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 is being rolled out in stages.

This year (2018/19) it is routinely being offered to all children aged 2 and 3, plus children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

In some areas all primary school children may be offered the vaccine.

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. These children will be offered an injected vaccine.

Why aren't children 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 that the vaccine provides the best protection against flu.

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

Can my child have the injected vaccine that doesn't 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 is 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.

However, if your child is at high risk from flu due to one or more medical conditions or treatments and can't 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: 24/08/2018
Next review due: 24/08/2019