Influenza vaccine for children

Information for parents and caregivers

Key points about influenza vaccine for children

  • Tamariki are at risk of getting very sick from the flu, and passing it on to their whānau.
  • Read about the flu vaccine including where to go for your vaccination.
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Everyone from 6 months of age is advised to get a flu vaccination EACH year to protect themselves and to reduce the spread of flu.

  • It's best to give your child the flu vaccine as soon as you can.
  • Winter is the time when your child is most likely to come into contact with the flu and it takes about 2 weeks for the flu vaccination to be most effective.
  • Everyone over 3 years old can get flu immunisations at many pharmacies.
  • Tamariki can get a flu vaccine at the same time as any other vaccine on the National Immunisation Schedule(external link).
  • If your child is 12 years of age or older and severely immunocompromised, or has a medical condition that puts them at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, they can get a COVID-19 booster vaccine at the same time as the flu vaccine.

The  flu vaccine is free for some tamariki
From Tuesday 2 April 2024, tamariki can get a free flu vaccine from their healthcare provider if:

  • they are aged 4 years and under and have a serious respiratory condition.
  • they are 6 months or older with underlying health conditions, including:
    • asthma that requires taking a preventer inhaler regularly
    • an autoimmune disease
    • heart or kidney disease
    • cancer
    • diabetes
    • mental illness (eg, schizophrenia) or they're currently accessing mental health services
    • a cochlear implant.

Read more about the free flu vaccine eligibility criteria at Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora.(external link)

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 from getting very sick and needing hospital care.

Flu vaccination is especially important for children with certain long-term (chronic) health conditions, eg, 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 has 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 virus particles found on 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 don't 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). 


Image credit: Healthify He Puna Wairoa

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 to have protection against the flu.

Image credit: Healthify He Puna Waiora

Funded and unfunded vaccines can be given by your doctor, nurse, midwife and some paramedics and pharmacists who have been trained as vaccinators.

Different providers may have restrictions on what vaccinations can be given or the ages of people they can administer these to. So it’s worth checking with the provider first to see if you or your whānau can get the vaccination needed from them.

Funded and unfunded flu vaccines are available in many different settings. These include medical or health centres, pharmacies, community-based clinics including marae-based clinics, mobile health clinics and mobile vaccination services.

Find a provider near you on the Healthpoint (external link)website.

Read more about who can give vaccinations and where to get vaccinated(external link).

Do I need to pay for the flu vaccine?

If your child doesn't meet the free flu vaccine criteria there will be a cost for the flu vaccine. Ask your doctor, nurse, healthcare provider, or pharmacy if you’re not sure.

If you aren't eligible for a free flu vaccine, it can cost between $25 and $45.

  • Children aged 6 months to under 9 years: Talk to your vaccinator – if it's your child's first flu vaccine, they'll need 2 vaccinations (4 weeks apart). This is because they may not have any immunity to the flu. It they have had a flu vaccine before, they will only need 1 dose. 
  • Children 9 years of age or older only need 1 dose. 

The following flu vaccines will be available for children in 2024:

  • Influvac Tetra: For pepi and children aged 6 months and older. Funded for those who are eligible.
    Read more about the free flu vaccine eligibility criteria at Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora.(external link)
  • Flucelvax Quad and Fluquadri: For pepi and children aged 6 months and older (there's a cost involved as it's not funded)
  • Afluria Quad: For children aged 3 years and older (there's a cost involved as it's not funded).

For more detailed information on each vaccine, including the ingredients, read the Medsafe Consumer Information in the 'More information' section below.

Your child can't catch the flu from a flu vaccination as there's no live virus in the flu vaccine. 

Can a flu vaccination make my child sick?

Most people have no reaction or a mild reaction to a flu vaccination. After the vaccination, your child may have:

  • soreness, redness or swelling where the vaccine was given
  • fever
  • aches.

These are usually mild and only last 1 or 2 days.

Read more about medicines and side effects and reporting a reaction that you think might be a side effect.

  • You don't need to give babies and children paracetamol before or after vaccination. 
  • 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, eg, a singlet and pants covered by a sheet.
  • Give plenty of breastfeeds or cool drinks. Read more about fever in children. 
  • If your child is miserable because of the fever, you can give them  paracetamol to make them more comfortable. Read more about paracetamol for children and use our paracetamol dose calculator to make sure they get the right amount.

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 they would be if they hadn't had a flu vaccination. 

The following links have more information on the flu vaccine.

Flu (influenza) vaccines(external link) Immunise, Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora
Influenza disease, vaccination and children(external link) The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ
What you need to know about the flu vaccination [PDF, 181 KB](external link) Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora

Influvac Tetra(external link) Medsafe Consumer Information, NZ
FluQuadri (external link)Medsafe Consumer Information, NZ
Flucelvax® Quad(external link) Medsafe Consumer Information, NZ
Afluria® Quad (external link)Medsafe Consumer Information, NZ


  1. Influenza and vaccination for children (external link)The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ, 2024
  2. Influenza immunisation programme(external link) The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ, 2024
  3. Influenza vaccine(external link) The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ, 2024

Influenza and vaccination for children 
The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ

What you need to know about the flu vaccination [PDF, 181 KB] 
Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora, 2023

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Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist, Healthify He Puna Waiora. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Stephanie Yee, Pharmacist, Auckland

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