The flu vaccine: what’s it all about?
Having your flu vaccine is even more important this year. The vaccine is being offered to all reception, primary and secondary school students, to help reduce the spread of flu at the same time that Covid-19 is circulating.
Flu can be a very unpleasant illness, even when you are young, causing fever, stuffy nose, dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints and extreme tiredness. Some children need to go to hospital for treatment.
Most children and younger people will be offered the flu vaccine in school. Letters will be sent to parents asking to give permission for your child to have the vaccine, so it’s important that you complete this and send it back to school as soon as you can.
The vaccine can’t give you flu, but it can help you to fight off infection if you come into contact with flu.
It is important that you know more about the flu vaccine.
- The flu vaccine will come in two forms; the nasal spray and an injectable version.
- The nasal spray is routinely offered to eligible young people up to the age of 18.
- The injectable alternative is for those who aren’t able to take the nasal spray.
- For the first time the injectable vaccine will be available from the start of the school flu vaccine programme, but must be specified by the parent or guardian on your school’s consent form.
Who should have the nasal spray flu vaccine and where to get it
The nasal spray flu vaccine is free on the NHS for:
- children aged 2 or 3 years – born between 1 September 2017 and 31 August 2019 – Please contact your GP to book an appointment
- all primary school children (reception to year 6) – School vaccination programme (please remember to return the consent form)
- all year 7 to year 11 children in secondary school – School vaccination programme (please remember to return the consent form)
- children aged 2 to 17 years with long-term health conditions – Please contact your GP to book an appointment
If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years and has a long-term health condition that makes them at higher risk from flu, they'll be offered a flu vaccine injection instead of the nasal spray.
This is because the nasal spray is not licensed for children under 2 years.
Five reasons why you should have the flu vaccine
- Protect yourself - The vaccine will help protect you against flu and serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
- Protect your family and friends - Having the vaccine will help protect more vulnerable family and friends.
- No injection needed - The nasal spray is painless and easy to have.
- It’s better than having flu - The nasal spray helps protect against flu, has been given to millions worldwide and has an excellent safety record.
- Avoid lost opportunities - If you get flu, you may be unwell for several days and not able to do the things you enjoy.
If you want to know more about the flu vaccine, you can read more here or you can talk to your school nurse or watch one of the film below.
Learn more about the nasal flu spray (Primary school student)
Learn more about the nasal flu spray (Secondary school student)
British sign language video with subtitles
Protect yourself against flu information for students in:
Protect yourself against flu information for parents and carers of preschool and primary school-aged children in: