Nasal Flu Vaccine 2023/2024

It is estimated that 20-30% of children develop influenza every year, leading to pneumonia, bronchiolitis, croup and bronchitis. In the past 10 years, almost  5000 children have been hospitalised because of flu, almost 200 children needed intensive care  support and  tragically 40 children died from complications from flu. A study from the UK has shown  a 94% reduction in primary school aged children experiencing flu like symptoms.

Children are twice as likely to catch flu than adults. Children sick with flu, even with mild symptoms, can miss out on weeks in crèche, childcare and school, as well as their usual activities like hobbies and sports.

Children carry the flu virus in their system longer than adults do. They can catch and spread flu easily to other children and to older and vulnerable people around them. Children, especially younger children and children with long-term health conditions are most at risk of serious illness from flu. The nasal spray flu vaccine offers the best protection for children against flu this winter.

The nasal flu vaccine is very safe for children.   Some children may have a runny or blocked nose, aches and may have an increased temperature after getting the vaccine but it is usually mild and goes away on its own. Reactions are generally rare. The vaccine cannot give your child flu. The nasal flu vaccine is very effective.

The vaccine is nasal spray, live influenza (needle free) vaccination. All healthy children in this age group will require one vaccination (2 sprays).

Children in a medically at risk group , aged between 2 and 8years 364 days old, and who have never received any flu vaccine in the past, will require 2 doses (4 sprays) of nasal vaccine  – 4 weeks apart.

Medically at risk groups in children

Children are deemed at higher risk of complications of influenza if they have a diagnosis of any of the following conditions:

    • chronic heart, liver or kidney disease, including nephrotic syndrome
    • chronic respiratory disease, including cystic fibrosis, moderate or severe asthma or bronchopulmonary dysplasia
    • chronic neurological disease including a child with a moderate to severe neurodevelopmental disorder such as cerebral palsy,  spina bifida, or an intracranial shunt
    • diabetes mellitus (Type 1 or Type 2)
    • haemoglobinopathies eg Sickle cell anaemia
    • obesity
    • immunosuppression due to disease or treatment (including treatment for cancer), treatment for inflammatory arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease, post splenectomy
  •  Down syndrome
  •  on long term aspirin therapy

In this exceptionally busy period for the surgery, to enable our phone lines remain free for patients who are unwell, we have set up an on-line booking system for a nasal flu vaccination clinic. This special clinic run by the GPs at Woodview, will take place in the surgery  during October,November and  December  2023.

Please note, your child must be a registered patient of Woodview Family Doctors, aged between 2 and 17 years of age, you will need one appointment per child and each child’s medical card number or PPS number. The only vaccine available at this clinic is the nasal spray vaccine.

There are very few children who should not receive this vaccination please note the list below: if your child falls into this category,(most children in this  category will have frequent hospital appointments) or you are unsure, please telephone your consultant paediatrician, for their advice.

Children who should not receive intranasal live flu vaccine and receive the injection vaccine instead are:

  • children who are severely immunocompromised due to disease or treatment eg cancer treatment
  • children who live with someone who is severely immunosuppressed eg post stem cell transplant
  • children who have a severe neutropenia ie neutrophil count < 0.5 x 109ml/l
  • children on long term aspirin or salicylate drugs
  • children on combination end point inhibitor drugs eg for  melanoma skin cancer
  • Pregnant (as this is a live vaccines – should instead receive flu  vaccine by injection)

Reasons to defer influenza vaccination for your child,

  • If your child has a temperature, they should not receive either flu vaccine until they have recovered from their illness
  • If a child has an exacerbation of their asthma with increased wheezing requiring them to use their reliever (blue) inhaler in the previous 72 hours
  • If your child has had treatment of Tamiflu (antiviral medication) for treatment of an influenza like illness in the preceding 48 hours
  • If your child has had in the past a severe allergic reaction to egg requiring them to be admitted to ICU in hospital, they should receive the nasal vaccine in a hospital setting not in the surgery.

Side effects :Side effects are mild but common. It is usual that post vaccination your child may develop a runny nose, decreased appetite, malaise, fever, headache and muscle pain. The fever is usually mild under 38 degrees and short lived responding to paracetamol – similar to those after other childhood vaccines. Symptoms usually only last for 24-48 hours.

Immediate allergic reactions are very rare less than 1 in 10,000 and we would ask you to remain in the vicinity of Woodview Family Doctors in your car  for 15 minutes  so that you can immediately return to the surgery should such an episode occur. Additional information is available at https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/flu/childrens-flu-vaccine/

Book an appointment for your child’s free flu vaccination  NEW DATES  OPEN  TO BOOK IN DECEMBER   https://calendly.com/woodviewfamilydoctors/nasal-flu-vaccine-clinic-2023

Childhood flu vaccines  : FAQs

My child is under 6 months of age :   For children aged 0-6 months flu vaccination is not recommended.

My child is aged 6- 23 months old : Children aged 6 months  to 23 months should have flu vaccine IF they fall into one of the  medically at risk groups.(see above for list of at risk conditions)

The intranasal vaccine is not recommended for this aged group as it is a live vaccine. If your child falls into  this category please make an appointment to speak with your usual GP regarding getting a free flu injection vaccine instead.

My child is aged 24 months (2 years)  to under 18 years (17 years 364 days)  Updated December 2023 as HSE are now recommending ALL children 13-17 years also receive  nasal flu vaccine 

The childhood nasal flu vaccine free of charge to all children aged  from 2-17 years of age, regardless of whether or not they have an underlying medical condition

This is a live vaccine given by one dose (2 quick sprays) up the child’s nose. Most children will require only 1 dose, there are a small minority of children who fall into certain high risk groups who will require a second vaccination 4 weeks after their first dose.

See above for this list of medically at risk conditions. If your child has any of these conditions they will require a second dose of nasal flu vaccination.

For extensive list of medically at risk conditions see https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/flu/childrens-flu-vaccine/

My child is aged 18 year and older: If your  adult child is in this age category, and falls into a  medically at risk group please telephone the surgery to  make an appointment to  receive the flu injection vaccine at the surgery.