Information for parents

Information for parents

Influenza immunisation is recommended for children
Influenza infection rates are generally highest in children and healthy children are the major cause of the spread of influenza viruses in the community.

Influenza vaccine can be used to immunise children aged 6 months and older and is especially recommended if they have an ongoing medical condition that may put them at higher risk of severe outcomes.

Children aged 6 months to under 9 years who have never received an influenza vaccine before should receive two doses four weeks apart, to help improve their immune response. Children in this age group who have received one or more influenza vaccine doses in the past only need one influenza vaccine dose each year.

Influenza immunisation may be FREE for some children aged from 6 months of age with an ongoing medical condition:

  • Children aged 6 months to under 5 years who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness
  • Chronic heart problems, excluding high cholesterol or high blood pressure if they have not caused problems with other organs
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Chronic breathing or lung problems, excluding asthma if regular preventative therapy not required
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Cancer that is not in remission, excluding skin cancers if not invasive
  • Other conditions (such as  autoimmune disease, immune suppression, immune deficiency, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), transplant recipients, neuromuscular and central nervous system diseases, cochlear implant, error of metabolism at risk of major metabolic decompensation, pre- or post-splenectomy, Down syndrome, haemoglobinopathies and children on long term aspirin)

People under 18 years of age living in the Seddon, Kaikoura and Hurunui areas

From 1 April 2019, PHARMAC removed the influenza vaccine eligibility criteria for people under 18 years of age living in Seddon, Kaikoura and Hurunui areas. The standard eligibility criteria for people aged 6 months to under 18 years continues to apply in these regions.

Reactions to the vaccine
Common reactions are the body’s normal response to immunisation and usually resolve after a day or so. Usually these reactions consist of some pain or redness at the injection site and less often a fever or headache.  If you are concerned though, please see your doctor or nurse.

Use of paracetamol following immunisation
The use of paracetamol to control fever either before or after the vaccine is given, is not recommended.  Evidence shows that the immune response to some antigens can be reduced.

After your child’s influenza immunisation
You and your child will need to wait at the clinic or surgery for 20 minutes after the vaccine is given.  This is to make sure treatment is quickly available if a rare, severe allergic reaction occurs.

Common reactions are the body’s normal response to immunisation and usually resolve after a day or so.  If these symptoms continue andor get worse, talk to your healthcare professional.

It takes up to two weeks for the body to start developing protection against influenza.  If your child is exposed to the influenza virus before or soon after immunisation, they can still get influenza.

Remember, the influenza vaccine protects against a serious viral illness.  It doesn’t protect against the common cold or other viruses and diseases in circulation.