Children's Flu Shot: What You Need to Know

Big Kid 30

We're already in the throes of flu season, although from the looks of Google Flu Trends (yes, that's a thing), we're experiencing low flu activity in the U.S. and Canada so far this year. That means it's not too late to get a flu shot for your kids, because they probably have not been exposed yet.

Here's what you need to know if you still need to get your kids vaccinated this year:

  • Kids ages 8 and younger who did not get at least one dose of the flu vaccine last year, or who are being vaccinated for the first time, need two shots about a month apart to be fully protected.
  • Children 6 months of age and older can get a flu shot; kids 2 and older can also get a nasal spray vaccine called FluMist.
  • It sometimes appears that the flu vaccine causes the flu; instead, what happens is that the vaccine can in some cases cause side effects very similar to the flu, but not as severe or as long-lasting.
  • There's no need to get a separate H1N1, or "swine flu" shot; this year's vaccine incorporates it.
  • Almost all the kids who died from the 2009 swine flu epidemic also had MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant form of staph infection. Experts are recommending that children be vaccinated to protect them, because MRSA is becoming more prevalent and can do much more harm to a sick child.
  • There are some children who should not get a flu shot: anyone with a severe allergy to eggs, anyone who has had a reaction to a previous flu shot, and anyone who had Guillain-Barre Syndrome after getting a flu shot. If your child has a fever or has recently had another vaccine, you should ask your doctor if delaying the vaccine is a good idea.
  • More than 36 percent of kids ages 6 months to 17 years got a flu shot before early November, which is up 3 percent from previous years.
  • Flu season runs from November to March ... getting a shot now will still protect your child for the bulk of the flu season. And flu can strike at any time of year.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks flu vaccine safety each year.

Have you already gotten your flu shot? Why or why not?

Image via woodleywonderworks/Flickr

kid health


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Brittany L. Ison

I typically dont do the flu shot for my little girl(5) - (its the only vaccine we've skipped) -- We've gotten it before and either the side effects were just horrible or (in one case) she got the flu anyway. Its $30 that I dont really have to spend, really...

BUT, she's in school now...and that makes me think about it a little more. I believe our Peds offers the nasal spray option, which is what I'll opt for if I do decide to go ahead with it :)

jagam... jagamama0710

You forgot to point out the flu shot isn't all that effective.

We don't do the flu shot in this house. My husband only gets it because he has to in the military. He also gets the flu every single year, always after the flu shot. 

The one and only year I got the flu shot was the one and only year I got the flu. I skip it.

If you're an otherwise healthy person, I feel healthy eating, exercise, sunshine, and good hygeine do far more to protect you than a flu vaccine.


yayhe... yayheadstart

@ brittany- my kids got the spray one year and it gave them awful diarrhea. you might want to ask your ped about that too. we don't do flu shots either. if we were in a high risk category we might, but luckily we're all healthy so i feel good about skipping it.

tyrel... tyrelsmom

We have never done the flu shot. We don't vax at all anymore, but even when we did, we skipped the flu shot. I've never had one, and had the flu a whole 3 times in 30 years. With the shot's 30% effective rate, getting the shot 29 times might have saved me from getting the flu once. Hardly worth it.

nonmember avatar jen

Actually, this year's vaccine is 59-66% effective for the injected one, depending on age (i.e., child vs. adult), and about 83% effective for the nasal vaccine. Check it out:

elasmimi elasmimi

I opted for the mist this year, and she did get pretty sick. I think I'll stick with the shot next year, it's not as effective, but it's a killed virus so the side effects are not as severe.

tyrel... tyrelsmom

Jen, that's for the strains it covers. Generally, they're about 30% effective, because of the other strains of flu that don't end up being included.

Bmat Bmat

I get it and my kids get it.

Tari Muth

We (my husband, daughter, grandchildren, and I) get the flu shot every year. It's MUCH preferable to getting the flu! We may just be lucky, but we don't get the flu. I intend to get it every year! Just like MEASLES or MUMPS or CHICKEN POX or POLIO, vaccines are important. Those who don't immunize their children rely on the fact that others DO to protect their children. I for one will rely on MYSELF, not others, for protection.

slw123 slw123

We don't usually get the flu shot.  We stick with eating healthy, taking vitamins, exercise and hand washing to stay healthy.

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