Child flu vaccine

NHS Scotland recommends eligible children should get the flu vaccine to help protect them from influenza (flu).

The flu vaccine is available between September and March.

Flu (influenza) is a common infectious respiratory virus. Symptoms may include a fever, a cough, a headache, and tiredness.

Why should I have my child vaccinated?

Flu can be serious. Even healthy children can become seriously ill from flu. In some cases flu can lead to complications. These can include bronchitis, pneumonia, painful middle-ear infection, vomiting, diarrhoea. In the worst cases, flu can lead to disability and even death.

Flu can be even more serious for people with health conditions such as:

  • asthma
  • heart, kidney, liver or neurological disease
  • diabetes
  • a weakened immune system
  • a spleen that does not work fully

Flu can make health conditions worse.

The flu vaccine will reduce the risk of your child getting or spreading flu to friends and family who are at greater risk from flu. For example, grandparents or people with health conditions. It’ll also help prevent your child getting sick with flu and needing time off school or nursery.

How is the vaccine given?

In Scotland, children aged 2 to 17 will usually be given the nasal spray flu vaccine. It’s quick and painless and there’s no need to sniff or inhale the vaccine. It’ll just feel like a tickle in their nose.

Children aged 2 to 17 years who cannot receive the nasal spray vaccine will receive the injectable flu vaccine.

Children aged 6 months to 2 years will be given the injectable flu vaccine.

Child receiving the nasal (nose) spray vaccine
Public Health Scotland

Vaccine safety

All medicines, including vaccines, are tested for safety and effectiveness before they’re allowed to be used.

Once they’re in use, the safety of vaccines continues to be monitored by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The nasal spray flu vaccine has been used since 2014 and has a good safety record. Millions of doses of the vaccine have been given to children in the UK.

Does the vaccine work?

The annual vaccine offers protection against the most common types of flu virus that are around each winter. The flu vaccine should start to protect most children about 10 to 14 days after they receive their vaccination.

In previous years, the flu vaccine has worked very well, providing protection against flu. It has also reduced the chance of spreading flu into the wider community.

Last updated:
03 June 2024

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