Children and young people aged between 2 and 17 years can get the nasal flu vaccine for free.

Please contact reception if you would like to book an appointment for your child to receive same.

Why children should get the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine helps to protect children against flu.

Most children who get the flu have mild symptoms. But children and young people with chronic health conditions are at risk of serious complications from flu.

In some children, flu can lead to serious problems such as:

  • pneumonia
  • bronchitis
  • inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)

Children with these complications may need hospital treatment. Some may need intensive care.

In the last 10 years in Ireland, almost 5,000 children were admitted to hospital with complications of flu. Almost 200 children had treatment in intensive care and 40 children died.

Children can catch and spread flu easily. The children’s flu vaccine can help to prevent the spread of flu in schools and at home. This keeps everyone safe.

Type of vaccine for children

Children aged from 2-17 years will get a nasal spray vaccine. It’s called the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) nasal spray vaccine. If your child has been told they cannot have the nasal flu vaccine, we can give the vaccine as an injection.

Most children only need 1 dose of the vaccine each flu season. Some children aged 2 to 8 years with chronic health conditions may need 2 doses if they have never had the flu vaccine before. The doses are given 4 weeks apart. The nasal flu vaccine is very safe and has been given to millions of children around the world.

It has been given to children in:

  • the US since 2003
  • the UK since 2013
  • Ireland since 2020

It’s safe for children to get the nasal flu vaccine at the same time, before, or after any of the vaccines that may be offered to them. This includes their covid or school vaccines

How the nasal flu vaccine is given

The vaccine is given as a spray in each nostril. It is not painful and is absorbed quickly.

If your child sneezes or blows their nose after vaccination, the vaccine dose does not need to be repeated.

It takes 2 weeks for the vaccine to work.

When to delay flu vaccine

Delay your child’s flu vaccine if they:

  • are unwell and have a high temperature – wait until they feel better
  • have a very blocked or runny nose – wait until their nose is clear

Side effects

Your child might have some mild side effects after their vaccine. Some of the side effects can be similar to flu. But they will not get the flu from the nasal flu vaccine.

Serious side effects such as a severe allergic reaction are rare.

The most common side effects are mild and include:

  • headache
  • runny or blocked nose
  • muscle aches
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite

Some children get a temperature after the vaccine. It is usually mild and goes away on its own.

If your child has a headache, you can give them paracetamol. These side effects should go away in a day or 2.

Important

Never give your child aspirin or any medicines that contain aspirin unless your GP prescribes them. This is especially important in the 4 weeks after getting the flu vaccine.

Further information is available from Children’s flu vaccine – HSE.ie