Does My Child Really Need a Flu Shot?

Feb 01, 2023
Does My Child Really Need a Flu Shot?
Winter is here, and that means flu season is in full swing. If you haven’t already scheduled your child’s annual flu shot, read on to find out more about it and why it’s so important to get your child vaccinated.

At The Center for Advanced Pediatrics in Darien and Norwalk, Connecticut, our team of pediatricians understands that to make sure you and yours stay healthy all year long, it’s important to keep your child up to date with their vaccines—including the flu shot.

The flu is a respiratory illness that spreads when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Every year, millions of children get the flu. Unfortunately, thousands end up in the hospital due to severe complications. 

Younger children (under 5) and children with chronic conditions, like asthma, are at a higher risk of developing these complications. Getting the flu shot every year offers much-needed protection since approximately 80% of pediatric flu-related deaths were in kids not vaccinated against the virus. 

Unfortunately, this year’s flu strain is one of the worst in years. The good news is that if your child hasn’t had the flu shot, there’s still time. Our providers offer flu vaccines at our flu shot clinic to all eligible children ages 6 months and older.  

Keep reading to learn more about why your child needs the flu shot and how we can help. 

Why your child needs a flu shot every year

Viruses change and evolve over time. That’s why there’s a new flu shot every year. Your child needs the flu shot every flu season since these different flu strains affect them differently. And because the common cold and COVID-19 viruses peak at the same time as the flu, it’s more important than ever to protect your child every year. 

At the Center for Advanced Pediatrics, our providers follow the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that all children 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year. 

Children under 9 years old who get the flu vaccine for the first time need two doses. If your child only got one dose last season and is under 9, they should get two doses this year.

It’s best to bring your child in before flu season starts, because it takes about two weeks for our bodies to make antibodies to the virus. However, it’s never too late to get the flu shot. If your child hasn’t been vaccinated, you can schedule an appointment at our flu clinic.    

The flu shot is safe

Some parents don’t bring their child in for a flu shot because they believe the vaccination might make their child sick. Fortunately, this is simply not true. 

Your child either gets the flu shot or the nasal vaccine. The flu shot is made from dead viruses, which are inactive. This means they can’t cause your child to get sick. The nasal vaccine also can’t make your child sick, since the viruses used are weakened to the point where they can’t trigger influenza. 

Very few people shouldn’t get a flu shot. Children under 6 months old or children who’ve had an allergic reaction to the flu shot are the only people who can’t get a flu shot. 

Even children with an egg allergy can get the flu shot. In the case of a severe egg allergy, be sure to talk to your pediatrician first, as your child might need to be monitored or have medications to address a reaction. However, it’s unlikely the vaccine will cause anything to happen. 

Sometimes your child’s provider may suggest postponing the flu shot if your child is significantly sick with another illness. But in most cases, even with mild illnesses, most children can get vaccinated.

The flu vaccine can trigger mild side effects, including soreness or swelling at the injection site, minor fatigue or muscle aches, and other mild flu-like symptoms. These side effects typically resolve on their own within a day of getting the vaccine. 

Have more questions about the flu shot? Ready to bring your child in for their vaccination? Schedule an appointment online or over the phone with a provider at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics.