Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why should children have the flu vaccine ?

Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children causing fever, stuffy nose, dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints, and extreme tiredness. This can often last several days. Some children can also get a very high fever, sometimes without the usual flu symptoms, and may need to go to hospital for treatment. Complications of flu can include a painful ear infection, bronchitis, and pneumonia - these may be severe.

2. What are the benefits of the vaccine ?

Having the vaccine will help protect your child from what can be a very nasty illness and will also reduce the chance of others in your family getting it. It can help you avoid having to take time out because you are ill or to look after your sick child.

3. How will the vaccine be given ?

The Flu vaccine is offered as a nasal spray or as an injection into the arm.

4. Who will give my children their flu vaccine ?

Trained healthcare professionals will give your child the flu vaccination.

In some cases, older children may be given the option to give the nasal vaccine to themselves, under the supervision of the healthcare team.

5. How does the flu vaccine work ?

The nasal flu vaccine contains viruses that have been weakened to prevent them from causing flu but will help your child to build up immunity, so that when your child comes into contact with the flu virus, they are unlikely to get ill.

The intramuscular injectable vaccination contains inactive viruses, weakened to prevent them from causing flu but will help your child to build up immunity, so that when your child comes into contact with the flu virus, they are unlikely to get ill.

6. Are there any side effects of the vaccine ?

Side effects of the nasal flu are uncommon but may include a runny or blocked nose, headache, general tiredness and some loss of appetite. The vaccine is absorbed quickly in the nose so, even if your child sneezes immediately after having had the spray, there’s no need to worry that it hasn’t worked.

Side effects of the injectable flu vaccine uncommon but may include slightly raised temperature, muscle aches and sore arm where the needle went in.

7. Are there any children who shouldn’t have the nasal flu vaccine?

Children should not have the nasal vaccine if they:

  1. are severely asthmatic, i.e. being treated with oral steroids or inhaled steroids
  2. are severely immunocompromised
  3. taking Aspirin like medication
  4. admitted to intensive care following anaphylactic reaction to egg
    Also, children who have been vaccinated with the nasal flu vaccine should avoid close contact with people with very severely weakened immune systems for around two weeks following vaccination. This is because there’s an extremely remote chance that the vaccine virus may be passed to them.
8.  Does the nasal vaccine contain porcine gelatine?

Yes. The nasal vaccine contains minute traces of porcine gelatine, which is used in a range of many essential medicines. The gelatine helps to keep the vaccine viruses stable so that the vaccine provides the best protection against flu. If you have any concerns about the contents of the vaccines you can find out more at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vaccines-and-gelatine-phe-response or www.gov.uk/government/publications/vaccines-and-porcine-gelatine

The nasal flu vaccine provides the best protection against flu, particularly in young children. This vaccine not only helps protect your child against disease but, if enough children are vaccinated, the disease won’t spread from one person to another, and so their friends and family are also protected.

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

9. Can’t my child have the injected vaccine that doesn’t contain gelatine?

Yes, some parents may wish their child to receive their flu vaccine via injection, as this does not contain traces of porcine gelatine.

10. Has the nasal flu vaccine been used in other countries?

Yes; it has been used in America for many years and it was used since 2012 in the UK where hundreds of thousands of children have been successfully vaccinated.