Flu vaccine nasal spray – does your child get it?

It’s the cold and flu season now, and already it seems that some pretty horrendous colds are going round, and hanging round for some length of time.  And this time of year also brings the flu vaccination programmes with it.

I’ve never needed a flu jab, never had flu, but this season after having a 3 week cold already, I’m planning to get one just to see if that helps prevent any other winter lurgies hitting me.

N’s recently been for his flu immunisation appointment.  The NHS are running a programme whereby all 2 and 3 year olds are offered a flu vaccination, via a nasal spray.  For older children up to final primary school year, whether they are offered it is dependent on the geographic areas which are in the pilot.  The aim is to role this out to all children over time.

What has got me about this programme is how inconsistent the communication is about it.

Talking to my online mum friends all over the UK, some people heard about it early on in September.   As so many of us hadn’t heard anything, we presumed it was all geographically based.

Then I received our invitation to come for the flu spray from our surgery and it was really clear.  All children of 2 and 3 should be offered it.  We also had a leaflet (drives me mad why they send these out, when they could just add a web link to the letter) which explained everything really clearly.  Basically it was an opt out – you had to send in the tear off part stating you didn’t want your child to have the spray, but otherwise expected that all would have it where suitable for the child.

By this stage it was mid-October, and surely by now you’d expect that all parents would have been invited by that stage?

No, there’re still inconsistencies.  Even within our area, rural and town, there was a real mix within my friends.  Some had had a call, some had letters, some had nothing.  I also know of people who’ve phoned to request it to avoid missing out, and have been told it’s only high risk children….er no, that’s not what the website says, not what the radio ad I heard said, and definitely not what the NHS leaflet said.

It’s madness, that for a national programme, parents are being told different facts, or nothing. For what is effectively a 2 minute appointment if that and no trauma for the child.  A quick spritz in both nostrils, we had no side effects afterwards.  Yes, let parents make the choice, but you have to tell them about it.

No wonder there’re so many concerns whenever there’s an vaccination programme in place with parents unsure about what they should be doing, what’s available, whether there are other options or not.  A standard communication for all should be available through all channels, GPs, childcare, children’s centres etc so that all parents have a way of accessing the information.

What’s been your experience of the flu immunisation programme?

Edit:  Have now heard a classic.  One surgery in our town only has one day for flu clinic (presumably for children).  Errr, parents who work, and can’t take time off for the one day opportunity, the 1 minute (if that) appointment.  How is one day of clinic going to get through all the potential 2 and 3 year olds who go to that surgery!  Madness.

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  1. I dont think anybody who is not in a vulnerable group ie, elderly, compromised immune etc should be having this. Flu doesnt kill healthy people. And actually how many people have ever actually had flu? Bad cold yes, flu? Not so many.

    We need to stop vaccinated against everything and pump money into the health service where it is needed.

    1. I kind of agree in that I’ve reached over 35 and have never had flu. Also having seen the Tonight programme on antibiotics becoming less effective, the argument also stands for avoiding medication where not needed.

      For me, the moan is more about consistency and mixed messages. If they can’t manage this right, then what happens where there’s a more serious outbreak that needs emergency coverage or the like?

      1. Yes, I agree with you, I saw the tale end of that programme and have been anti-antibiotics for years. Also agree with the inconsistent messaging issue, I have a three year old and I wasn’t aware this flu service was going on, even though I’d opt for my daughter not to have it and try and keep her healthy in other ways.

        1. I think we’re quite lucky in that N seems to get things mildly (touch wood that continues)…chicken pox 5 spots and hand, foot and mouth very mildly too. I think it helps that he’s been around other babies and children his age since birth, and been in nursery so he can build up an immunity. I think it’s probably down to the fact that he’s outdoors quite a bit, and I don’t clean incessantly. Hopefully a bit of dirt will keep him healthy.

        2. Oh yes, totally agree with you on that score too, our Western world has got a bit too hung up on anti-bacterial this and that and incessant cleaning, it isn’t good! The only place it is needed is in hospitals, ironically the one place that it can’t be guaranteed!!

  2. A few years ago just after my girls had heart surgery we were all offered the flu jab and we took it….We were ill for weeks and weeks with the flu and when we got better we had a couple of weeks then caught the flu again….That went on for months…..The next year we had it and were plagued with colds too….The last two years we haven’t had it an we have hardly had any colds…..lol The doctors surgery have yet to ask if we want it this year….The answer will be no…..

    1. There seems to be quite a few instances where the jab’s been the one to cause people to catch flu. Although maybe it was being stressed and run down in the first place that caused it being a problem the first time. Really odd that after the first year though, that everyone caught it again, given the majority of people never get proper flu.

      I just wish there was a solution to the common cold, or at least the pain of sore throats. 2 years ago i had a sore throat virtually for 6 months, then last year avoided it apart from once, but now this year it’s back already and I’m 4 weeks in with it still here. I don’t think office working helps but we have quite a lot of outdoor fresh air so would hope that that should offset the lurgy side of living!

  3. My daughter did get a letter fairly early Sep for hers, and it was a straightforward process here. She was fine with it – it tickled, apparently! But I know of others who know nothing about it, and where it’s a jab not a spray. Very odd communication and inconsistencies, as you say.

    1. Interesting that some have a jab. It’s my understanding that this age is a spray, with under 2s (presumably because it’s harder to get a spray in their nose having a jab. It’s madness the way some surgeries don’t seem to be doing it, or saying yes to everyone who asks. It’s like they’re either deciding their own route, or not getting the right information in the first place.

      The tickle thing seems to be what they say. Although N said it didn’t. Probably being obstinate!

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  5. My kids don’t get one, so I can’t say, but I really think it sounds like a great idea to give this vaccine as a nasal spray. I Would definitely go for that one. I don’t think we are in the test area though, as we haven’t heard anything. Or maybe it’s because my kids are too old for that. No idea. Just hoping for a mild winter 🙂

    1. Nasal spray’s definitely a good idea. Maybe they should have more of those for different vaccines where there’s a lower uptake to get more parents willing to put their child through it.
      The all areas for age 2 & 3 is if they’re those ages between 2 dates, the 1st Sep 2011 was the youngest cut off, and think the same date in 2009. If they’re older than that, it depends on area, and if younger, it’s only vulnerable babies under 2s. Guess it’s keep a watch out in future years, although presumably they’ll do it via visiting schools like we used to have for vaccination programmes.
      I would love a mild winter but if you listen to the forecasters it’s going to be worse than last year. Boo

  6. We haven’t had any details about it, but maybe that is because M isn’t 2 yet but less than a month to go. It will be interesting to see whether he is on their list or whether you had to be in the age bracket on a specific date.

    I need to book a flu jab for me. I’ve had it twice, once when I was at school and once a few years and it was awful I do not want to feel like that again.

    1. M’ll be too young, as the cut off date was 1 Sep 2011. Under that age, it’s vulnerable children only, and I think is a jab. Guess it’s keep an ear to the ground for next year.
      The spray seems great. No-one I’ve spoken to has found their kids have any side effects which is good because you’re not the only person who said that jab made them feel rough.

      1. It is strange the cut off was September, because M will be 2 for most of the flu season.

        My writing was not very clear there. I’ve had flu twice. When I had it a few years ago my DH had it at the same time and neither of us could get out of bed, fortunately we had people to help getting B to nursery. And it lingered, it took over a month for us both to recover. It is that memory that means I want the jab again this year, if I can organise it.

  7. TP had his yesterday I was told about it early September but yesterday was the 1st clinic I was able to attend I think all primary school children should be offered it and all teachers, carers etc as an option instead of an injection as there are needle phobic adults

    1. I think the primary school roll out starts this year as pilots to see how it works out, before then gradually rolling it out to all up to 16s in the end. Think it’s also nasal sprays for all kids. Just adults and under 2s with high vulnerability that’s jabs.

      Our clinic was madness, basically N, and all the rest (the waiting room was rammed, not helped by our surgery only being open 2 hours a day with a few hours extra 1 day a week) were the elderly in for their jabs. So many to get through, at least with school children, they can all have them at school easily enough

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