All children from 6 months of age can benefit from yearly flu immunisation. It is especially important for children with certain long-term health conditions. It's also important for women in pregnancy.
Key points to remember about flu immunisation
All children from 6 months of age can benefit from flu immunisation.
- the flu (influenza) can be a serious and sometimes life-threatening viral infection
- it is not the same as having a bad cold
- even if your child is fit and healthy, they can easily catch the flu
- all children from 6 months of age can benefit from yearly flu immunisation
- it is especially important, and free, for children with certain long-term health conditions, who may develop complications from the flu
- washing hands often, covering coughs and sneezes with tissues or your elbow and keeping sick people away from healthy people will also reduce the spread of flu
- make sure your family is ready to prevent the flu each year - ask your nurse or doctor about flu immunisation, including its cost, or phone 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863)
How easy is it to catch the flu?
The flu virus is very easy to catch and can affect anyone - it doesn't matter how fit and healthy your child is.
It can spread 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.
Can I do anything to prevent my child catching the flu?
Flu immunisation offers the best protection. It strengthens your child's ability to fight the flu.
Regular hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes with tissues or your elbow, and keeping sick people away from healthy people also reduces the risk of spreading the flu.
Which children need flu immunisation?
All children from 6 months of age can benefit from flu immunisation. By immunising your child (or children), especially if they go to preschool, creche or daycare, you can protect them and your family.
Flu immunisation is especially important for children with certain long-term (chronic) health conditions. This is because these children are more likely to develop complications from the flu, such as chest infections. If your child does have a long-term condition, make sure they have their flu immunisation every year before the winter starts.
What time of year is flu immunisation usually available?
Flu shots are usually available from April each year.
What about getting the flu and COVID-19 vaccines?
If your child is 5 years and over, they can have the COVID-19 vaccine. They can have the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time, before or after each other.
Watch a video from the Ministry of Health about getting the flu vaccine, and other vaccines, at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine.
Where is flu immunisation available?
Your child can have their flu immunisation at:
- your family doctor
- some pharmacies - you can pay for flu immunisation at some pharmacies for children 13 years of age and older
How many doses of the flu vaccine does my child need?
Children aged 6 months to under 9 years
- in the first year they have flu immunisation, they need 2 doses, 4 weeks apart
- they only need 1 dose if they have had previous flu immunisation
Children aged 9 years or older
- 1 dose
Which flu immunisations are available for my child?
- children aged 6 to 35 months will have Afluria® Quad Junior
- children aged 3 years or older will have Afluria® Quad
See Medsafe's NZ consumer medicine information:
Is flu immunisation free for my child?
Your family doctor or practice nurse can tell you whether or not flu immunisation is free for your child. You can also phone the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) on 0800 466 863. If you do have to pay, it's around $30 but check the exact price with your family doctor or pharmacy.
Flu immunisation is likely to be free if you answer 'yes' to any of these questions
- does your child have asthma and regularly use a preventer medicine (brown, orange, red or purple inhaler)?
- is your child aged 4 years or under and has a significant respiratory illness or been in hospital for a respiratory illness (such as pneumonia, bronchiolitis, asthma)?
- does your child have a heart condition (such as congenital heart disease or rheumatic heart disease)?
- does your child have cancer?
- does your child have an ongoing chest (respiratory) condition, such as bronchiectasis or cystic fibrosis?
- does your child have diabetes?
- does your child have ongoing kidney (renal) disease?
- does your child have HIV or AIDS, an auto-immune disease or another immune deficiency?
If you answered no to the questions, there is likely to be a cost
If you answered 'no' to all these questions, there is likely to be a cost for flu immunisation for your child. Check with your nurse or doctor.
It's a good idea to have flu immunisation if you share a house with children who have long-term conditions
Flu immunisation is also recommended for those sharing a house with children and young people with long-term (chronic) medical conditions. The flu spreads rapidly within households and children are particularly efficient spreaders.
It may not be free for household members - they could ask their employer about free or subsidised flu immunisation as many employers offer this to their employees. Flu immunisation is free for some adults; for example, all those over 65 years of age and those with certain long-term conditions.
Should I have flu immunisation if I'm pregnant?
Yes - flu immunisation is free anytime during your pregnancy. This is because flu is likely to be more severe in pregnancy and affect you and your growing baby.
Flu immunisation during pregnancy has an excellent safety record. It offers protection against the flu for mum and baby, both before and after birth.
Watch Ali, an intensive care nurse and mum, talk about why she had flu immunisation while pregnant with her second child Caitlin. (A Ministry of Health video).
Watch Elani Mafi, a midwife in South Auckland, talking about the importance of getting the flu vaccine in pregnancy. (A Ministry of Health video).
Remember to have other important vaccines during pregnancy
As well as having the flu vaccine, remember to also have the COVID-19 vaccine and whooping cough vaccine. You can have the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine at any stage of pregnancy, and whooping cough vaccine from 16 weeks of pregnancy. You can have them at the same time or separately.
Can flu immunisation give my child the flu?
No. Your child cannot get the flu from flu immunisation - there are no live viruses in flu immunisation. Many people confuse colds with the flu. There are many other viruses in the community which flu immunisation will not protect against.
Can flu immunisation make my child sick?
Most people have no reaction to flu immunisation. Anyone can have flu immunisation except those who have had a previous severe allergic reaction to flu immunisation.
Sometimes your child may have one or more of the following responses:
- soreness, redness, or swelling where the immunisation was given
These are usually mild and only last 1 or 2 days.
Can my child still get the flu even if they have had flu immunisation?
Immunisation is not 100 percent effective for all people, so some immunised people may still get the flu. If they do, symptoms are usually milder than if they had not had flu immunisation.
This page last reviewed 09 May 2022.
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