All children at primary school are offered a nasal spray vaccine to protect them against the flu as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme.
This is delivered within schools by our Immunisation teams.
The flu vaccine for children is needle-free and is given as a single dose that is sprayed up each nostril. It is quick and painless and will mean your child is less likely to become ill if they come into contact with the flu virus.
The nasal spray is more effective than the injected flu vaccine, especially in young children, which is why children are now routinely offered the nasal spray rather than the flu jab.
Flu can be very unpleasant for children. They have the same symptoms as adults – including fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and sore throat lasting up to a week. Some children develop a very high fever or complications of flu such as bronchitis, pneumonia and painful middle ear infection. They may need hospital treatment, and very occasionally, a child may die from flu.
The nasal spray vaccine contains flu viruses that have been weakened to stop them causing flu. It will help your child build up immunity to flu in a similar way as natural infection (but without the symptoms). Because the main flu viruses change each year, a new nasal spray vaccine has to be given each year, in the same way as the injectable flu vaccine. The flu vaccine for children has a very good safety profile. It has been widely used in the US for more than 10 years and no safety concerns have been raised so far.
Parents/carers receive an email about the immunisation at the start of the Autumn term. This will ask for e-consent for your child to be given the vaccine. The immunisation will then be done at school by the school nurse.
The nasal spray flu vaccine has very few side effects, the main one being that vaccinated children may have a runny nose for a short time afterwards.