Pediatricians call for flu vaccine for children

September 6, 2022 – Attention Parents: The nation’s leading pediatric medical society urges you to make sure your children get their flu shot this fall to help prevent and control the spread of the disease.

The American Academy of Pediatrics this week called on parents and caregivers to seek out flu shots for their children as soon as they become available in the fall. The group also encourages parents to catch up on all other vaccines for their children.

“As a pediatrician and a parent, I consider the flu vaccine essential for all family members,” Kristina A. Bryant, MD, said in a statement on the academy recommendations. “We should not underestimate influenza, especially when other respiratory viruses like COVID-19 are circulating within our communities. In addition to making your child miserable and disrupting your family’s routine, the flu can also be serious and even fatal in children.

According to the CDC. During the 2019-2020 flu season, 188 children in the United States have died from the infection, tying the death record set during the 2017-18 season, the agency reported.

The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommend that children ages 6 months and older be vaccinated with the flu shot every year. Depending on the child’s age and health, they may receive either an injection, which contains an inactive version of the flu virus, or the nasal spray, which contains a weakened form of the virus. (The academy has more information on the different vaccines here.)

Children 6 to 8 months old getting the flu shot for the first time should get two doses at least 4 weeks apart. Pregnant women can get the flu shot at any time during their pregnancy. Flu vaccines are safe for developing fetuses, according to the academy.

The group stressed the importance of flu vaccines for high-risk and medically vulnerable children and recognized the need to end barriers to vaccination for everyone, regardless of income or insurance coverage. In 2020, an estimated 16.1% of children in the United States lived in poverty, up from 14.4% in 2019, according to the United States Census Bureau.

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