Your family’s fall calendar may be packed with sports activities, pumpkin picking, and school events, but don’t forget to make time for one very important appointment: your child’s flu vaccine.
Experts say now is the best time to get the flu vaccine. Getting it at the start of flu season — which runs from October to May — gives the body a chance to make antibodies that protect from the flu.
For the last couple of years, flu rates have been lower than usual, in part due to the precautions taken to prevent COVID-19. But now kids are returning to school with fewer precautions and resuming pre-pandemic activities.
The flu will start to spread again, which is why families should get their flu shots as soon as possible.
Why Is the Flu Vaccine Recommended?
While the flu vaccine isn’t 100% effective, it still greatly lowers a person’s chances of catching the flu, which can be very serious. It also can make their symptoms less severe if they do get the flu.
If you got the flu vaccine last year, it can’t provide enough protection this year because flu viruses change. That’s why the vaccine is updated each year to include the most current types of the virus.
Who Needs the Flu Vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a flu vaccine each year for everyone 6 months of age and older.
Babies younger than 6 months 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 serious problems from the flu.
Is It Safe to Get the Flu Vaccine and COVID-19 Vaccine Together?
Yes, it’s safe to get a flu vaccine along with any other routine vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccine or booster.
Where Can My Family Get the Flu Vaccine?
The flu vaccine usually is available at:
- doctors’ offices
- public, employee, and university health clinics
- most drugstores
- some supermarkets and big-box stores
- some community groups or centers
- some schools
How Is the Flu Vaccine Offered?
Two types of flu vaccine are available for the 2022–2023 flu season:
- the flu shot, which is injected with a needle
- the nasal spray, a mist that gets sprayed into the nostrils
The nasal spray is only for healthy people ages 2–49. People with weak immune systems or some health conditions (like asthma) and pregnant women should not get the nasal spray vaccine. It also should not be given to kids who take aspirin regularly, have a cochlear implant, or recently took antiviral medicine for the flu.
What Else Should I Know?
Getting the flu vaccine not only protects you and your child 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 it.
And that means fewer interruptions to your family’s routine, and more time enjoying the season together.
Learn more about protecting your family from the flu at Nemours KidsHealth.org.