Child Health, Safety, and Well-being

 Tips: Flu and Vaccines

Last Updated: January 13, 2021

As families prepare for back to school, planning to ensure children's health in 2020 and the future may look different than previous years, especially with the upcoming flu season right around the corner.

​Did you know fewer childhood vaccines have been given during the COVID-19 pandemic?1 The declines in routine pediatric vaccines suggest that children and their communities are at increased risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.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 such as COVID, it is more important than ever to get your child vaccinated to prevent the spread of the flu. It is also another reason to ensure proper handwashing to prevent the spread of germs.

Flu Frequently Asked Questions3

  • 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



  1. Santoli JM, Lindley MC, DeSilva MB, et al. Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Routine Pediatric Vaccine Ordering and Administration External Link – United States, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69;591-593. 
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Influenza (Flu): Schools & Childcare Providers External Link Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services. 
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Influenza (Flu): Key Facts About Flu Vaccines External Link Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services.