Tamariki are at risk of getting very sick from the flu, and of passing it on to their whānau. All children from 6 months of age can benefit from getting the flu vaccine every year. It is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On this page, you will find information about:
- Influenza (flu) vaccine for 2022
- Why do children need the flu vaccine?
- At what age should my child get the flu vaccine?
- How well does the flu vaccine work?
- Where can you get the flu vaccination for your child?
- Is the flu vaccine free?
- Which flu vaccinations are available for my child?
- Should I have the flu vaccination if I'm pregnant?
- How many doses of the flu vaccine does my child need?
- Can a flu vaccination give my child the flu?
- Can a flu vaccination make my child sick?
- Should I give my child paracetamol before or after the flu vaccine?
- Can my child still get the flu even if they have had a flu vaccination?
- Can my child have the flu vaccine if they have an allergy to egg?
|In 2022 the influenza immunisation programme starts on 1 April and runs to 31 December.|
Everyone from 6 months of age is recommended to get a flu vaccination EACH year to protect themselves and to reduce the spread of flu.
To protect your child
The flu is a viral infection that can be serious and sometimes life-threatening – it's not the same as having a bad cold. Even if your child is fit and healthy, they can catch the flu. The flu vaccine can help stop your child getting very sick and needing hospital care.
Flu vaccination is especially important for children with certain long-term (chronic) health conditions such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. This is because these children are most likely to develop complications from the flu, eg, chest infections. If your child does have a long-term condition, make sure they have their flu vaccination every year before winter starts. All household members should also be vaccinated to reduce the chances of your child being exposed to the flu.
To protect your family/whānau
The flu virus is very easy to catch and can affect anyone. It spreads through the air by coughing and sneezing, as well as by hands, cups and other objects that have been in contact with an infected person's mouth or nose. Many people don’t know they have the flu as they do not feel ill. But they can still pass it on and make other people very sick. Young children, babies, pregnant women and older people are more likely to get sick with the flu.
Make sure your whānau is ready to prevent the flu each year – ask your nurse or doctor about flu vaccination, including its cost, or phone 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).
All children from 6 months of age can benefit from flu vaccination.
Image: Health Navigator NZ
Giving your child the flu vaccine may not stop them getting the flu, but it should stop them getting very sick and prevent them needing hospital care. It takes up to 2 weeks after getting the flu vaccine for your child's infection fighting system to start protecting them against flu.
Research has shown that giving children the flu vaccine has the following benefits:
Image credit: Health Navigator NZ
Your child can get their flu vaccination at your family doctor/general practice and some pharmacies.
Always call your family doctor/general practice or pharmacy ahead of time to find out if they offer this service, the cost and whether they have the vaccine in stock.
Yes, from 1 July 2022 tamariki 3-12 years old, can get a free flu vaccination from their GP, other healthcare provider or at most pharmacies. The flu vaccine is also free for some children younger than 3 years who may develop complications from the flu, for example with certain long-term health conditions, or who have had severe breathing problems (respiratory illness).
Read more about the eligibility criteria. For more information, talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist, or call 0800 466 863.
If your child is not eligible for a free flu jab, it costs between $25 and $45 depending on the vaccine and provider.
The number of doses (1 or 2) will depend on your child's age and whether they have had the flu vaccine previously.
- Children between 6 months and 9 years of age: for their first ever flu vaccination, they need 2 doses, 4 weeks apart. They only need 1 dose if they have had a flu vaccination before.
- Children 9 years of age or older only need 1 dose.
Children younger than 9 years need 2 doses initially because it is unlikely they have had the flu previously and may not have any natural infection fighting responses (immunity) to the flu.
The following flu vaccines will be available in 2022:
- Afluria Quad: For children 3 years and older.
- Afluria Quad Junior: For children aged 6–35 months (under 3 years)
- Fluquadri: For children 6 months and older (cost involved as it is not funded).
The vaccines each contain the same ingredients. If your child is eligible for a free flu vaccine, they will be given the Alfuria Quad or Alfluria Quad Junior brand depending on their age.
Your child cannot catch the flu from a flu vaccination as there is no live virus in the flu vaccine.
Most people have no reaction or a mild reaction to a flu vaccination. Your child may have one or more of the following responses after the vaccination:
- soreness, redness or swelling where the vaccine was given
These are usually mild and only last 1 or 2 days.
- You don't need to give babies and children paracetamol before or after vaccination. There is some evidence that paracetamol may reduce the effectiveness of childhood vaccinations.
- If your child develops a fever after their vaccination, use a cool cloth to wipe their face, hands and neck and keep your child in lightweight clothing and bedding, such as a singlet and pants covered by a sheet. Read more about fever in children.
- If your child is miserable because of the fever, you can give paracetamol to make them more comfortable. Read more about paracetamol for children.
Vaccination is not 100% effective for all people, so some vaccinated people may still get the flu. If they do, symptoms are usually milder than if they had not had a flu vaccination. If you'd like to know more about the effectiveness of flu vaccination, see the Fightflu website.
Yes, the brands of the flu vaccine for the 2022 flu season can be given to people with egg allergy. Studies have shown that flu vaccines containing one microgram or less of ovalbumin do not trigger anaphylaxis in sensitive people. The residual ovalbumin in 1 dose of the flu vaccine for the 2022 is below this limit.
Apart from people who have had a previous severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccination in the past, anyone can have a flu vaccination.
The following links have more information on the flu vaccine.
Frequently asked questions about the flu vaccine Health Navigator NZ
Flu (influenza) vaccines Ministry of Health, NZ
Influenza (flu) topics Health Navigator NZ
Influenza disease, vaccination and children The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ