Parents and carers of children aged 2 and above are encouraged to ensure their child gets their flu vaccine ahead of winter.

The expansion of the flu programme to include secondary school pupils continues this winter, with all school-age pupils, all children aged 2-5, and children aged 6 months to under 2 years with a condition that puts them at increased risk of flu, being eligible for a free flu vaccine.

The child flu vaccine is usually given as a painless nasal spray and is a safe way to help protect your child against flu. It should start to protect most children against flu about 10-14 days after they get their vaccine. The vaccine will reduce the risk of your child getting flu or spreading it to family and friends who are at greater risk from flu.

Appointment letters for children 6 months to 2 years at risk and those aged 2 to 5, who are not in school, started arriving at homes from mid-August and will continue through the autumn with details of where and when the vaccine will be given.

Consent forms and information about this year’s flu vaccine are being sent home to parents and carers of school children. Secondary pupils can self-consent but are encouraged to speak to a parent or carer first. All primary and secondary school pupils who consent to be given the flu vaccine nasal spray will receive this at school between 4 September and 15 December.  

Dr Claire Cameron, Consultant in Health Protection, Public Health Scotland said:

"Even healthy children can become ill from flu. The virus is always changing so it’s important to get your child vaccinated every year to help them stay protected and avoid passing the virus on to vulnerable family members. Getting your child vaccinated can also protect against other infections with bacteria that can follow flu, prevents them from getting sick, and missing out on school and other activities.

"We strongly encourage all parents and carers, to look out for an appointment letter by post, or a consent form in your child’s school bag and take up the flu vaccine offer this winter.

"Immunisation is the best way of protecting against serious preventable diseases. Parents are also encouraged to check if their child’s immunisation record is up-to-date and what other free vaccines they can expect to be offered in school."

Visit NHS Inform for more information about the child flu vaccine

Read our latest blog for more information on the vaccines offered to children.

More information on winter vaccines is available on NHS Inform: Winter vaccines | NHS inform

Last updated: 13 September 2023