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Childhood Flu Vaccination

The children’s flu vaccine is offered as a yearly nasal spray to young children to help protect them against flu. Flu can be a very unpleasant illness for children, with potentially serious complications, including bronchitis and pneumonia.

However, the vaccination not only protects the child, more importantly it helps stop the spread of the illness especially to those older members of the family such as grandparents. It can cause severe illness and even death among vulnerable groups including older people, pregnant women and people with an underlying health condition.

When more members of a community have been vaccinated, there is less opportunity for the disease to spread to those who are at risk. Unfortunately, flu can be a devastating illness and even result in unnecessary death.

At what age should children have the nasal spray flu vaccine?

In the autumn/winter of 2017–18, the vaccine will be available free on the NHS for eligible children, including:

  • children aged two and three on August 31 2017 – that is, children born between September 1 2013 and August 31 2015
  • children in reception class and school years one, two, three and four
  • children aged 2 to 17 with long-term health conditions

Over the next few years the programme will gradually be extended to include older children.

Who will give the children’s flu vaccination?

Children aged two and three will be given the vaccination at their general practice, usually by the practice nurse. Children who are 4 years old are also eligible for flu vaccination provided they were 3 on 31 August 2017. These children should be offered the vaccination at their general practice.

Children in reception class and school years one, two, three and four will be offered their vaccination in school.

Children at higher risk from flu

Children aged 2 to 17 with long-term health conditions such as diabetes or asthma are at higher risk from flu. It’s especially important that they are vaccinated with the annual flu nasal spray instead of the annual flu jab, which they were previously given. Children between the ages of six months and two years who are at high risk from flu are offered the annual flu jab, usually at their GP surgery.

What are the side effects of the flu vaccine for children?

The nasal spray flu vaccine has few side effects – most commonly getting a runny nose after vaccination for a few days.

How to get the flu vaccine for your child

Your child’s GP or school should contact you about getting them vaccinated before the winter. Talk to the GP, practice nurse or your child’s school nurse if you want more information about when and how your child will be vaccinated against flu. If you haven’t heard from their GP by early November 2017, contact them directly to make an appointment.

How is the nasal spray flu vaccine given?

The vaccine is given as a single spray squirted up each nostril. Not only is it needle-free – a big advantage for children – the nasal spray is quick, painless, and works even better than the injected flu vaccine.  The vaccine is absorbed very quickly. It will still work even if, after the vaccination, your child develops a runny nose, sneezes or blows their nose.

Read the patient information leaflet for the nasal spray flu vaccine.

Are there any children who should delay having the nasal spray flu vaccine?

Children should have their nasal spray flu vaccination delayed if they:

  • have a runny or blocked nose
  • are wheezy

If a child has a heavily blocked or runny nose, it might stop the vaccine getting into their system. In this case, their flu vaccination should be postponed until their nasal symptoms have cleared up.  If a child is wheezy or has been wheezy in the past week, their vaccination should be postponed until they have been wheeze-free for at least three days.

Are there any children who should not have the nasal spray flu vaccine?

There are a few children who should avoid the nasal spray flu vaccine. The vaccine is not recommended for children who have:

  • a severely weakened immune system
  • severe egg allergy
  • severe asthma – that is, those being treated with steroid tablets or high-dose inhaled steroids
  • an allergy to any of the vaccine ingredients, such as neomycin

Children unable to have the nasal spray vaccine may be able to have the injectable flu vaccine instead.

Why children are offered flu vaccine

Flu is a very common infection in babies and children. It can be very unpleasant for them. Children with flu have the same symptoms as adults – including fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and a sore throat lasting up to a week.

Some children develop a very high fever or complications of flu, such as bronchitis, pneumonia and a painful middle ear infection. They may need hospital treatment, and very occasionally a child may die from flu. In fact, healthy children under the age of five are more likely to have to be admitted to hospital with flu than any other age group.

For children with long-term health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease or lung disease, getting flu can be very serious as they are more at risk of developing serious complications.

Learn about the five reasons to vaccinate your child against flu

How safe is the flu vaccine for children?

The flu vaccine for children has a good safety record. In the UK, millions of children have been vaccinated safely and successfully.

How does the children’s flu vaccine work?

The vaccine contains live but weakened flu viruses that do not cause flu in children. 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.

Stopping the spread of flu

The nasal spray flu vaccine will not only help protect your child against flu, the infection will also be less able to spread from them to their family, carers and the wider population. Children spread flu because they generally don’t use tissues properly or wash their hands. Vaccinating children also protects others that are vulnerable to flu, such as babies, older people, pregnant women and people with serious long-term illnesses.

Read more about how flu is spread.

How many doses of the flu vaccine do children need?

Most children only need a single dose of the nasal spray. The patient information leaflet provided with the nasal spray suggests children should be given two doses of this vaccine if they’ve not had flu vaccine before. However, the NHS vaccination programme has advised that healthy children only need a single dose because a second dose of the vaccine provides little additional protection. Children aged two to nine years at risk of flu because of an underlying medical condition, who have not received flu vaccine before, should have two doses of the nasal spray given at least four weeks apart.

Read answers to some of the common questions parents have about the flu vaccine for children.

Porcine gelatine content

The children’s flu vaccination programme, the nasal flu vaccine Fluenz and porcine gelatine:
  pdf Your questions answered (181 KB)


Adverse Childhood Experiences

A newly released ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) animation to raise awareness of ACEs and the effect they have with regards to behaviour and emotional health and wellbeing.  

For more information on Adverse Childhood Experiences visit the Blackburn with Darwen Council website - http://www.blackburn.gov.uk/Pages/aces.aspx

Childhood Asthma

Asthma is a common long-term condition which can be well managed in most children.  Symptoms can include:

  • wheezing
  • coughing
  • shortness of breath
  • tightness in chest

If your child has recently been diagnosed with asthma, there are lots of resources that can provide information and guidance on managing your child's asthma.

The Asthma UK website has lots of helpful information to help, visit - www.asthma.org.uk/advice/child. The Monkey Wellbeing website also has a helpful asthma plan printout - https://www.monkeywellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/asthma-plan-v3.pdf

What to do if your child is having an asthma attack:


Asthma UK have also put together the below video, which helps show how to use a spacer with a mask for a child. 

Views being sought on changes to clinical policies

This CCG, together with all the CCGs in Lancashire, needs to make sure patients continue to access essential clinical services. To achieve this, the CCG originally adopted policies formerly approved by our predecessor Primary Care Trust. Most of these policies are similar across Lancashire but not the same in all cases.

The 8 CCGs across Lancashire agreed that there was a need to review and where necessary update their policies in order to:

  • Ensure a consistent and fair approach,develop a set of principles and policies against which decisions about care and treatment can be made and to develop collaborative policies across the 8 CCGs in Lancashire.
  • This review process is being supported by a Consultant in Public Health employed by Lancashire County Council and representatives from the 8 CCGs and other support staff, who form a working group overseeing the review process. The process includes the input of clinical staff and a review of the latest NICE guidance and clinical practice.

The working group has now reviewed a number of procedures, which identifies the circumstances when these services will or will not be provided to patients. It is important to engage and involve patients, the public and other stakeholders in the development and implementation of clinical policies, especially as these policies will help determine decisions about whether individuals receive or are eligible to receive care or treatment under their local NHS.

The latest draft policies open for patient and public scrutiny and feedback are as follows:

  • Policy for surgical treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tonsillectomy policy
  • Policy for surgical release of trigger finger
  • Policy for endoscopic procedures on the knee joint cavity
  • Male circumcision
  • New draft policy for funding insulin pumps and glucose monitoring devices for patients with (Type 1) diabetes

Have you say

You are invited to read these revised clinical policies and give your views on them. You can do this by opening the Lancashire Clinical Policy Engagement Document embedded on this webpage. When you have opened this document you can do the following:

  • Read all the clinical policies mentioned above, or those that interest you the most
  • Examine the Level of Change document that identifies what has been changed in the updated policy compared to the previous policy
  • Complete the on-line survey for each clinical policy in order to give us your comments and responses on the changes to these policies. Your comments will be fed back to the CCG and the working group as part of the development process.

If for any reason you are unable to complete the survey on-line you can print and complete a hard-copy available on this webpage, if you prefer. We recommend you read the clinical policies before completing the survey.
The Lancashire Clinical Policy Engagement Document is colour-coded to help you identify the level of change to each policy, which ranges from those with no change to, in the case of the policy for insulin pumps and glucose monitoring devices, an entirely new policy.


The engagement process for all but the policy on insulin pumps and glucose monitoring devices will end on Friday 7 April. The new draft policy on insulin pumps and glucose monitoring devices will be for a longer period of 6 weeks, from 20 March to 28 April.

Any groups or individuals who wish to discuss the new draft policy on insulin pumps and glucose monitoring devices in addition to completing the survey can make arrangements to do so by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or ring 0300 404 2999 ext. 6852

Further opportunities will be made available for your involvement and feedback on other clinical policies as and when they are developed and available for discussion.

More information

To view changes being made to the various policies please click on the link below:

  document Clinical policy public engagement process doc (917 KB)

Policy Public engagement process docPolicy Harmonisation Q & As can be viewed by clicking on the link below:

  pdf Policy Harmonisation Q As V4 (pdf | 178.1 KiB) (178 KB)

Primary Care Access (GP and other out of hospital services)

We are currently asking people what they think about primary care – that is, GP and other services provided outside hospital. A report went to our pdf Governing Body in January 2015 (538 KB)  outlining the principles developed.