6 Questions Answered About the Flu Vaccine And Kids

By Dr. Leisha Andersen, Pediatrician and Content Specialist, Bright by Text

6 Questions Answered About the Flu Vaccine And Kids

We answer all of your flu shot FAQs

Have you heard the buzz about the arrival of flu shots in your community? October is the perfect time to vaccinate your family against influenza (the “flu”). As a parent and pediatrician, I want to answer some frequently asked questions in order to give you up-to-date information about the flu this year. 

Is the flu preventable?
Getting a flu vaccine every year is the best way to protect your child (and yourself) from the flu.

Anyone 6 months of age or older is eligible to receive the flu vaccine. If your baby is under 6 months of age, it’s important that all other family members are vaccinated against the flu to prevent household members from spreading influenza illness to your baby.
Two types of flu vaccine are available this year--a shot and a nasal spray (sometimes called “the mist”).Talk to your child’s doctor to decide which type of flu vaccine will be best for your child.

You can also limit the spread of the flu by reducing your contact with people who are sick with flu symptoms. Handwashing, covering of coughs and sneezes, wearing a mask, and staying home when you’re sick can all help to prevent spreading the flu.

How can you find free or low cost flu vaccines for your family?
Your child’s doctor's office will be a good place to get flu vaccines this year. You can also find vaccine opportunities in your community using this Vaccine Finder. To learn about qualifying for low-cost health coverage (which will include coverage of vaccines), check out InsureKidsNow.gov or call 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669).

Is there a best time to get a flu vaccine?
It takes about two weeks for your body to develop protective antibodies after you’re vaccinated against the flu. Therefore, it’s important to vaccinate as soon as possible to avoid getting (and spreading) influenza. Ideally, your family will get their flu vaccines by the end of October.

Can you get the flu from the influenza shot?
Flu vaccines do not cause flu sickness. After a flu vaccine, some people have mild symptoms that go away quickly. If you get the flu, you may be sick for as long as 2 weeks. Flu illness can also lead to complications including asthma attacks, pneumonia, hospitalizations, and rarely death.

How are flu and coronavirus different?
The flu and the coronavirus are different respiratory viruses. The two infections do have some things in common:
  • both are contagious
  • both can spread through coughs and sneezes
  • both may cause fever, cough, runny nose, stuffy nose, breathing difficulties, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, and fatigue.
The flu and the coronavirus also have important differences:
  •  a vaccine is currently available for influenza
  •  the loss of taste or smell is more likely with coronavirus
  • symptoms spread with different timing. 
    • Influenza symptoms typically show up 1-4 days after you’re exposed to a person sick with the flu. 
    • Coronavirus symptoms can show up 2-14 days after you’re around someone sick with COVID-19.
It’s up to all of us to prevent the spread of influenza this season. Flu may be heading for your community right now. Stay home if you’re sick and get a flu vaccine today.

Want to learn more?
The Flu (American Academy of Pediatrics)
How is the Flu Different from COVID-19? (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Prevent Seasonal Flu (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Preventing the Flu: Resources for Parents & Child Care Providers (American Academy of Pediatrics)

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