The flu vaccine is
a good idea for all families. It does not cause the flu
and it helps keep kids and parents from getting sick. Getting the flu is worse than
having a cold and can make a
person sick for a week or more.
Babies younger than 6 months old can't get the vaccine. But if their parents, other
caregivers, and older kids in the household get it, that will help protect the baby.
This is important because infants are more at risk for health problems from the flu.
Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a flu vaccine for
everyone 6 months of age and older.
But it's especially important for those who are at greater risk of developing health
problems from the flu, including:
all kids 6 months through 4 years old (babies younger than 6 months are also considered
high risk, but they cannot receive the flu vaccine)
anyone 65 years and older
all women who are pregnant,
are thinking about becoming pregnant, have recently given birth, or are breastfeeding
during flu season
anyone whose immune system
is weak from medicines or illnesses (like HIV infection)
people who live in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes
anyone (adults, teens, and kids) with an ongoing medical condition, such as asthma
kids or teens who take aspirin regularly and are at risk for developing Reye
syndrome if they get the flu
caregivers or household contacts of anyone in a high-risk group (like children
younger than 5 years old, especially those younger than 6 months, and those with high-risk
Some things might prevent a person from getting the flu vaccine. Talk to your doctor
to see if the vaccine is still recommended if your child:
has ever had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccination
Two types of flu vaccine are available for the 2019–2020 flu season. Both
protect against four types of influenza virus:
the flu shot, which is injected with a needle
the nasal spray, a mist which gets sprayed into the nostrils
In the past, the nasal spray vaccine wasn't recommended for kids because it didn't
seem to work well enough. The newer version appears to work as well as the shot. So
either vaccine can be given this year, depending on the child's age and general health.
The nasal spray is only for healthy people ages 2–49. People with weak immune
systems or some health conditions (such as asthma) and pregnant women should not
get the nasal spray vaccine.
Vaccine shortages and delays sometimes happen. So check with your doctor about
vaccine availability, which vaccine is right for your kids, and how
many doses they need.
Egg Allergy and the Flu Vaccine
In the past, people with an egg
allergy had to check with their doctor about whether the flu vaccine was OK for
them because it's grown inside eggs. But health experts now say that the amount of
egg protein in the vaccine is so tiny that it's safe even for kids with a severe egg
allergy. This is especially important during a severe flu season.
Still, a child with an egg allergy should get the flu vaccine in a doctor's office,
not at a supermarket, drugstore, or other venue.
If your child is sick and has a fever,
or is wheezing, talk to your doctor about whether to reschedule the vaccine.
When Should Kids Get the Flu Vaccine?
Flu season runs from October to May. It's best to get a flu shot as early
in the season as possible, ideally before the end of October. This gives the body
time to build its protection from the flu. But getting
the vaccine later in the season is still better than not getting it at all.