Child Health, Safety, and Well-being

 Tips: Flu and Vaccines

Last Updated: December 08, 2021

As families prepare for back to school, the change in seasons, and spending the holidays with loved ones, planning to ensure children's health and future may look different than previous years, especially with the upcoming flu season right around the corner.

​Early reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic documented a decline in pediatric vaccinations, placing children and adolescents at an increased risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. Analysis of state immunization information systems indicates there was an increase in vaccination administration, but this increase was not enough to achieve catch-up coverage in children and adolescents.1 For example, flu causes more hospitalizations among children than any other vaccine-preventable diseases.2 Especially since flu may increase risk of other diseases, it is more important than ever to get your child vaccinated to prevent the spread of the flu. Getting a flu vaccine External Link is the best protection against flu and its potentially serious complications, and getting a COVID-19 vaccine External Link is the best protection against COVID-19. It is also another reason to ensure proper handwashing to prevent the spread of germs.


Flu Frequently Asked Questions3,4

  • When is flu season? The exact timing and duration can vary, but flu season often peaks between December and February; although it can last as late as May.
  • Why should people get vaccinated against the flu? An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Flu vaccines have been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illness, hospitalizations, and even the risk of flu-related death in children.
  • What kinds of flu vaccine are available? There are many FDA-approved vaccine options, including the flu shot and nasal spray flu vaccine.
  • Are any of the available flu vaccines recommended over others? No. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommend everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccination annually with rare exception.
  • When should I get vaccinated? Make plans to get vaccinated early in the fall, before flu season begins. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Children who need two doses of vaccine should start the process sooner because the two doses must be given four weeks apart.
  • Why do I need a flu vaccine every year? A person's immune response to the vaccine declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed. Also, flu viruses are constantly changing requiring flu vaccines to be updated each year based on the flu viruses that may be most common during the upcoming season.
  • Can the flu vaccine give me the flu? No, the vaccine cannot cause illness. But there may be mild and short-lasting side effects, such as tiredness, muscle aches, soreness where the shot was given, runny nose, etc.
  • Does the flu vaccine work right away? No. It takes about two weeks after receiving the vaccine for the body to provide protection against the flu viruses. That's why it's best to get vaccinated before the influenza viruses start to spread.

 

References

  1. Murthy B, Zell E, et al. (2021). Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Administration of Selected Routine Childhood and Adolescent Vaccinations — 10 U.S. Jurisdictions, March–September 2020. External Link Morb Mortal Wkly Rep;70:840–845. 
  2. CDC. (2019). Influenza (Flu): Schools & Childcare Providers (webpage) External Link Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services. 
  3. CDC. (2020). Influenza (Flu): Key Facts About Flu Vaccines (webpage) External Link Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services. 
  4. CDC. (2021). Flu & Young Children (webpage) External Link Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services.