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 of passing it on to their whānau.
  • The 2023 flu vaccine is free for tamariki aged 6 months to 12 years old.
  • Read about the flu vaccine including where to have it.
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In 2023 the influenza immunisation programme starts on 1 April and runs to 31 December

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. 

The flu vaccine is free for tamariki aged 6 months to 12 years 
From 1 April 2023, tamariki 6 months to 12 years old, can get a free flu vaccination from their healthcare provider.  Everyone over 3 years old can get flu immunisations at many pharmacies.
The flu vaccine is also free for children older than 12 years 
with underlying health conditions, including:

  • heart disease, cancer, diabetes and serious asthma
  • mental illness such as schizophrenia or for people currently accessing mental health services. 

Read more about the eligibility criteria.(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 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 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: 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 to have protection against the flu.

Research has shown that giving children the flu vaccine has the following benefits: 

Image credit: Healthify He Puna Waiora

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.

  • 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 in 2023:

  • Afluria Quad: For children 3 years and older.
  • Afluria Quad Junior: For children aged 6 to 35 months (under 3 years)
  • Fluquadri: For children 6 months and older (there's a cost involved as it's not funded).

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

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.

  • 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.(external link)

The following links have more information on the flu vaccine.

Frequently asked questions about the flu vaccine Health Navigator NZ
Flu (influenza) vaccines(external link) Ministry of Health, NZ
Influenza (flu) topics Health Navigator NZ
Influenza disease, vaccination and children(external link) The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ


  1. influenza vaccines(external link) The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ
  2. Flu 2023 Essential information for health professionals(external link) The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ
  3. Influenza vaccines(external link) The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ

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Link to Māori Pharmacists website

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

Reviewed by: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland

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