little girl getting her flu shot
Picture of brave little girl receiving injection or vaccine with a smile

When Should My Child Get The Flu Shot?

Cases of colds and the flu start appearing in high numbers at the pediatrician as we head into the fall and winter months.

 

Since keeping kids healthy is usually somewhere near the top of a parent’s priority list, it is always a good idea to get the flu shot to protect your child. But when should they get it? And how old do they have to be?

 

We have all the details for you.

What is the Flu?

Formally known as influenza, the flu is a viral infection that impacts the respiratory system, including the nose, throat, and lungs.

 

While many are under the impression that the flu has symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, that is usually not the case. Your child is more likely to experience symptoms such as:

 

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy, runny nose
  • Dry cough
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

 

The flu is a virus and that means that there is nothing available to treat it, including antibiotics. Rather, most doctors will recommend rest and fluids. And, if necessary, they may prescribe an antiviral medication to help keep their young patient more comfortable.

 

With a vaccine, kids are able to stay safe from the flu and avoid dealing with all the symptoms that come along with it.

When is the Best Time to Get the Flu Shot?

The important thing to remember is that it takes about two weeks for the shot to be fully effective in your system. So, when you get a vaccine, it is best to get it prior to the season — especially the peak season — if possible.

 

What is flu season?

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu season falls within the fall and winter months. However, it often peaks between the months of December and February. Though, keep in mind that the flu can be found at any time throughout the year.

 

If possible, have your child get vaccinated for the flu by the end of October. This will allow them to be fully protected against the virus by the time peak season arrives.

What Age Should Children Get the Flu Shot?

The earliest a child can be vaccinated for the flu is 6 months of age. Therefore, anyone over the age of 6 months is able to receive and benefit from the influenza vaccine. But there are a few key things you ought to know about when it comes to getting this shot.

 

  • Depending on the specific vaccine, kids who are under 9 years of age who are getting their flu shot for the first time will need two doses — a month apart. Starting sooner rather than later is crucial.
  • Those with egg allergies should feel confident getting the vaccine. Be sure to discuss this and any allergies with your pediatrician first before getting vaccinated.
  • Young children are at an increased risk for flu complications, especially those who have asthma, lung or heart conditions, weak immune systems, or other chronic illnesses.

 

Getting the flu shot is really the best way to prevent the flu. Be sure to make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician to ensure they make it through flu season with their health and wellness intact.

Advocare Haddon Pediatric Group is a highly experienced team of pediatricians serving patients from birth through college. They have been an established leader in pediatrics for decades in the Haddon Heights and Mullica Hill areas of New Jersey.