Flu Vaccines and Kids
A CDC expert explains why your child needs the flu vaccine, how many doses to get, and when.
Q: Is H1N1 (swine flu) still a concern?
A: Yes. We need to consider whether children get an adequate number of doses of the H1N1 pandemic strain to be protected from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus.
Q: Which children are eligible for the nasal spray flu vaccine?
A: The nasal spray is an option for healthy children over age 2 who don't have asthma, chronic medical conditions that cause a suppression of the immune response, or other medical problems that might place them at increased risk for influenza complications.
Sometimes doctors' practices run out of it, or they're not able to stock it every year. But you can ask for it.
Q: How can a parent prepare a child for the flu shot, particularly if the child is afraid of injections?
A: For children who are fearful of an injection, the nasal spray flu vaccine is an option. Otherwise, it's just like any other vaccination, and it may help if the pediatrician has good distraction techniques.
Q: What are the typical reactions to the flu shot?
A: Generally, the most common side effects from the flu shot are local symptoms around the site where the shot was given -- things like soreness, redness, or swelling. Children who get the nasal spray vaccine may have a runny nose, congestion, or cough.
After either vaccine, some children may have other symptoms, such as fever or aches. These effects are usually mild and last only one to two days.
Severe reactions are rare, but parents could look for a high fever, behavior changes, or signs of a severe allergic reaction, like trouble breathing or hives.
Q: Will the flu shot be painful for my child?
A: There is some pain but it usually goes away fast. And it’s one of the best things you can do to help prevent influenza. There are a lot of things that can impact what your experience is, so it's hard to say. For example, there can be a lot of variability depending on the technique of the person giving the shot.