Children and the Flu

Flu Vaccine for Children

Which vaccine should my child get?
Children 6 months and older should get an annual influenza (flu) vaccine. A flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu. This year, both the injected vaccine (shot) and a nasal spray vaccine are again available. In recent years the injected vaccine has been more effective than the nasal spray, and continues to be, so the injected vaccine is recommended for children to receive. However, in children and families who would otherwise not be vaccinated, the nasal spray is available and may be used in children over 2 years.

Why should I get my child vaccinated?
Each year, many children get sick with the flu; some are hospitalized and some die. Young children are the most likely to get sick with the flu. Children younger than 5 years are at high risk of getting serious flu complications. Vaccinating your child is the best way to protect them.

What viruses does the flu vaccine protect against?
All flu vaccines are made to protect against four flu viruses: an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus and two influenza B viruses.

Where can I find the vaccine?
To find out where flu vaccines are offered in your area, call your doctor, pharmacy, or other local health facility; or use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.

How many doses of flu vaccine will my child need?
Regardless of the type of flu vaccine your child gets, some children up to 8 years of age will need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected. Usually this will apply to children getting a flu vaccine for the first time. The two doses should be given at least 28 days apart. Your child’s doctor can tell you if your child needs two doses.

How effective is the flu vaccine in children?
The effectiveness of the flu vaccine can vary, depending on a number of factors, including the age and health of the person being vaccinated and how similar the viruses used to make the vaccine are to the viruses that are circulating.

What side effects are associated with the flu vaccine?
In children, side effects can include redness at the injection site, pain at the injection site and fever. Your child cannot get influenza from the flu vaccine.