Children should get the yearly flu shot vaccine along with their parents. Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to protect your child from the flu. The Centers for Disease Control states that children younger than 5 years old – especially those younger than 2 years old – are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications. The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older with any age-appropriate flu vaccine. Your child’s health care provider will know which vaccines are right for your child.
Benefits of the Flu Shot
There are a lot of benefits to allowing your child to get vaccinated, including the following:
- Reduced risk of flu illness and hospitalization
- In cases where a child still catches the flu, the vaccine can make the illness less severe
- Less likely to miss school due to illness
- Helps prevent spreading flu to others, including babies younger than 6 months who are too young to get a flu vaccine
Getting the Flu Shot
Your child should get the flu shot as soon as possible. It is recommended that your child get the flu vaccine every year in the fall. The CDC recommends a flu vaccine by the end of October but getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial.
Making Children Comfortable
Most children don't like needles. Here's some advice for parents on making their children feel more comfortable during the flu shot.
- Distract your child by drawing their attention away from the person administering the shot.
- A small treat (like a lollipop) can help reduce your child’s pain response.
- Breastfeeding can calm and relax your baby.
- Explain to your child what to expect in a calm and soothing manner.
- After the shot, you can soothe your child with various soothing techniques such as cuddles, hugs or whatever is appropriate for your child.
- Visit the CDC for more great tips on how to make the flu shot less stressful for children.
Getting the flu shot is an important step in keeping you and your children healthy. Remember to continue to practice recommended practices including handwashing, properly wearing a mask and social distancing. For more information on how you can get the flu shot this year, visit Ochsner.org/flu.