This year, it’s more important than ever to get the flu vaccine.
There has been so much focus on COVID-19 this year that many people may not even realize that flu season has already begun. For many people, the flu is more than a seasonal annoyance, it can be dangerous. And as COVID-19 continues to spread during this 2020-2021 flu season, it’s extra important to get a flu vaccine for all family members as soon as possible.
The flu virus spreads easily from person to person. It gets into our lungs and airways and can turn into serious illnesses like pneumonia. The flu is especially dangerous for babies. It can also be serious for kids and adults with health problems like asthma or diabetes.
Why Does My Family Need a Flu Vaccine This Year?
Getting the flu vaccine not only protects you from the flu, it also helps protect the people and community around you. The flu vaccine makes someone less likely to get the flu, and therefore less likely to spread the flu.
Preventing the flu will help you avoid needing medical care when health care providers are so busy caring for people with COVID-19. Health experts also worry that people who get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time might have a more serious illness.
Flu and COVID-19 cause similar symptoms, but if you are already vaccinated against the flu, it may be easier for your doctor to figure out what’s going on if you develop any symptoms like cough or fever.
Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine?
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine once a year. It’s best for your child to get theirs as soon as it’s available from their doctor. This year, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children get vaccinated against the flu before the end of October. The earlier your child gets the shot, the safer they will be.
Does the Flu Vaccine Cause the Flu?
It doesn’t. People might feel sore in the area where they had the shot. A few people get a slight fever. These are just signs that the body is already getting to work building up its defenses against the flu. This immunity against the virus declines over time, though. That’s why it’s important to get a flu shot every year.
Do I Have to Get the Flu Vaccine as a Shot?
Two types of flu vaccine are available for the 2020–2021 flu season. Both protect against four types of influenza virus:
- the flu shot, which is injected with a needle
- the nasal spray, which is a mist sprayed into the nostrils
In past flu seasons, the nasal spray vaccine sometimes worked better or worse than the flu shot. The nasal spray available for the last two flu seasons appears to work as well as the shot, so you can get either vaccine this year, depending on availability. Ask your provider if the spray is right for your child.
Getting a flu vaccine is easy and safe. Call your family doctor or visit your local pharmacy to get your flu shot today, then show us your shot! Post your #FluShotSelfie on social media and tag @nemours!
For more information about the flu vaccine and why it’s important, visit Nemours.org/FluHQ.
This article originally ran on Main Line Parent