Skip to main content

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 
  • a 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 (anaphylaxis).

The overall rate of anaphylaxis after vaccination is around 1 in 900,000 (so slightly more common than 1 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.

The person who vaccinates you or your child will be trained to deal with allergic reactions and will treat them immediately.

With prompt treatment, you or your child will make a good recovery.

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. This is nothing to be concerned about.

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

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

Some children cannot 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 2 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 of monitoring a vaccine's safety.

Find out how to report a vaccine side effect

Find out more about the children's flu vaccine

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