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Children’s vaccines

Our Immunisation and Vaccination team works in partnership with schools and local authorities to deliver a variety of vaccination programmes across the academic year to state, independent and home school-aged children and young people across Essex, Bedford, Milton Keynes and Luton.

It is important to get your child vaccinated.

Flu vaccination catch up clinics

Has your child missed their school vaccinations? We are running catch up clinics across Essex and Luton for the flu vaccination.

It's easy to catch up.

Book your nearest clinic NOW on: 

Essex, 0300 790 0597
Luton, 0300 790 0594, walk in clinics

or for more information on missed vaccinations.

Vaccination clinic locations and dates.

New dates coming soon.

Flu Vaccine

Flu is serious and with COVID-19 still circulating it has never been more important for your child to get their free vaccine.

Do your bit and protect your child and others from flu.

Flu is caused by the influenza virus. The virus enters the body through the nose and mouth. From there it is transmitted to the throat and upper airways where it rapidly reproduces and goes on to cause the symptoms of flu. Children can catch and spread flu easily.

Flu can be a very unpleasant illness for children. It can lead to painful ear infections and serious problems, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

Children with long-term health conditions, such as diabetes or heart problems, are at higher risk from flu. It's important they're vaccinated.

Vaccinating your child also protects others who are vulnerable to flu, such as babies and older people. People at risk from flu are also vulnerable to the complications of COVID-19.

What is flu? Animation for children

The children's flu vaccine is an annual vaccination to help protect them against flu.

Even if your child was vaccinated last year, it recommended that they have the vaccine each year and with COVID-19 still circulating, it has never been more important for your child to get the free flu vaccine.

The flu vaccine contains small amounts of weakened flu viruses. They do not cause flu in children.

The children’s flu vaccine is free and needle-free as most children are given a simple nasal spray, a single squirt up each nostril. It is quick and painless.

The nasal spray is safe and effective. It offers the best protection for children aged 2 to 17 years and it is offered every year to children to help protect them against flu. As the main flu viruses can change each year, a new nasal spray vaccine has to be given each year.

Note: The nasal spray vaccine contains small traces of pork gelatine (porcine gelatine). If you do not want your child to receive a vaccine containing gelatine an injectable vaccine can be offered as an alternative. Please call (Essex) 0300 790 0597 or (BLMK) 0300 790 0594.

What children and parents think of the nasal spray vaccine

The nasal spray flu vaccine for children is very safe. Most side effects are mild and do not last long, such as:

  • a runny or blocked nose
  • a headache
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite

If your child has the injected flu vaccine, side effects might include:

  • a sore arm (or thigh) where the injection was given
  • a slightly raised temperature
  • aching muscles

These side effects usually last for a day or two. It's rare for anyone to have a serious allergic reaction to the flu vaccine.

Our immunisation team are attending schools across the area this autumn to administer the annual flu vaccine. Delivering the vaccination programme through schools is the best way to ensure the maximum number of children are protected against flu.

If your child is at school, you will be contacted directly by your school. As a parent you can also refer your child to get a vaccine via:

  • Your GP
  • Paediatrics
  • Education staff and school
  • Acute Hospital Services
  • Social Care and housing
  • Other health professionals

FAQs

Yes, it is free for

  1. all children with a health condition up to 18 years old
  2. those aged two to three years old
  3. and all primary and school and secondary school children up to year 9.

It can be a serious illness that leads to complications like bronchitis and pneumonia, and painful ear infection in children. It could also mean more time off school. But flu also spreads easily so by vaccinating children you are also stopping the spread to your families and the wider community.

Children in primary school will receive their vaccine in the school setting. Children aged two and three on 31 August will receive their vaccine in the GP setting. If your child is at school, your school or GP will contact you about getting vaccinated before the winter.

Flu is a disease that spreads very rapidly, potentially causing widespread illness, especially in those who are already vulnerable because of their age or medical condition. So if children are vaccinated against flu they will not only benefit directly by being protected themselves, they will also reduce the spread of flu and help protect the whole population. In particular, they will help to protect those children and adults who cannot or do not have the vaccine. With the country still in recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and the flu season rapidly approaching, it will also help to reduce pressure on the NHS and other vital services.

No. As with all immunisations, flu vaccinations for children are optional. However, this vaccine will help protect them from what can be an unpleasant illness, as well as stopping them spreading flu to vulnerable friends and relatives.

Most children will be offered the Fluenz nasal spray. This is a single spray squirted up each nostril. It is needle free, quick and painless.

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 symptoms. Because the main flu viruses change each year, a new nasal spray vaccine has to be given each year.

No. The vaccine contains viruses that have been weakened to prevent them from causing flu.

The nasal flu vaccine is more effective than the injected vaccine for children aged two and over and is therefore the preferred option.

The flu virus enters the body through the nose and mouth. From there it is transmitted to the throat and upper airways where it rapidly replicates and goes on to cause the symptoms of flu. Because Fluenz also enters the body through the nose it mimics the flu virus and results in a better immune response than an injected vaccine. This means that, compared with injected and less active vaccines, Fluenz:

  • is more effective
  • provides protection for longer
  • may offer protection against slightly different types of flu virus
  • is easier to give and more comfortable to have

Yes, the vaccine contains a highly processed form of gelatine that is derived from pigs – porcine gelatine. This gelatine helps to keep the vaccine viruses stable to ensure it provides the best protection against flu.

Gelatine is used in a very wide range of medicines, including many capsules and some vaccines. Porcine gelatine is used in vaccines as a stabiliser – to ensure that the vaccine remains safe and effective during storage. Vaccine manufacturers normally test a wide range of stabilisers and choose one that is stable, good quality and available in sufficient volume. Unlike the gelatine used in foods, the product used in vaccines is highly purified and broken down into very small molecules called peptides.

Developing a vaccine takes many years of laboratory testing and clinical studies to ensure that it is both safe and effective. Once the manufacturer has chosen the stabiliser for the vaccine, any change in this could require extensive laboratory and clinical studies to show that the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine has not been affected. Because of this, developing a new safe and effective vaccine with a different stabiliser may take several years or may never happen.

There are injectable flu vaccines that do not contain porcine gelatine. These are generally expected to be less effective than Fluenz Tetra® in children. They may also do less to reduce the spread of flu in the community.

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