Should I Get My Child a Flu Shot?

Every year, millions of children get sick with seasonal flu. Thousands of these children are hospitalized, and some die from the illness. Children younger than five years old are particularly at risk of flu complications.

The flu shot seems like a practical preventative measure to protect your child, but there’s still a lot of debate about this vaccine.

Doctors Recommend Yearly Flu Vaccination

Some parents worry about health complications, and others question whether the flu shot is truly effective.

Unfortunately, the flu shot is not 100% effective, and this is because the vaccine is formulated with the strains most likely to circulate that season. It is still possible to get sick from a strain of the flu that was not included in the vaccine.

Although there is still a chance that your child may get the flu, the vaccine has been shown to reduce flu illnesses, missed school days, doctor’s visits and flu-related hospitalization.

The CDC recommends that everyone six months of age and older get the flu vaccine every year. Parents often forget to vaccinate themselves, but taking this step to protect yourself also helps protect your children.

The flu is more dangerous than you think. The 2017-2018 flu season broke records for deaths and illnesses, with 80,000 people dying from influenza. The number of flu deaths last season was higher than the number of car accident deaths in Texas.

Flu complications can be serious and include:

  • Dehydration
  • Pneumonia
  • Ear infections and sinus problems
  • Brain dysfunction

In some cases, flu can exacerbate long-term medical problems, like asthma or heart disease.

Types of Flu Vaccines for Children

There are two types of flu vaccinations given to children:

  • Injectable Influenza Vaccine (IIV): An injectable vaccine approved for use in people aged six months and older.
  • Live Inactivated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV): Administered as a nasal spray. LAIV is designed for people 2-49 years old. People with certain underlying medical conditions should not use LAIV.

Your child’s health care provider will know which type of vaccine is appropriate for your child.

Children who are under 9 years old and getting the flu shot for the first time will need two doses of the vaccine, one month apart.

If you’re concerned about your child catching the flu from the vaccine, don’t be. The flu in the vaccine is inactivated. Your child may experience some side effects from the injection, such as fever or pain at the injection site, but the vaccine cannot give your child the flu.

Treating Your Child for a Cold or Flu

Cold and flu season can be a trying time for parents. The flu shot can lower the risk of your child developing influenza, but what if your child still gets sick?

Colds and flus are viral infections, so antibiotics won’t help. In many cases, colds can be treated at home with rest and care. The flu, on the other hand, can produce more serious symptoms and complications.

 When it comes to at-home care, there are several things you can do to help make your child feel better.


Make sure that your child is drinking plenty of liquids. A fever can cause dehydration, which can quickly become a medical emergency.

Your child may not feel thirsty or may feel uncomfortable drinking, but it’s important to encourage them to stay hydrated.

Promote Rest

Rest may help your child recover faster. Make sure that your child is dressed comfortably, especially if they have a fever. Avoid excessive layers and heavy blankets, which will only make them feel hotter.

If your child feels comfortable in bed, she’ll be more likely to stay put and get the rest she needs.

Follow Directions with OTC Medications

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against giving OTC cold and cough medications to children under the age of two.

If your child is under two years old and has a fever or cold symptoms, contact your pediatrician. Your child’s doctor will be able to tell you which medications to give (if any), and how they should be administered.

See your child’s doctor if at-home care isn’t working or if your child:

  • Has a fever greater than 101F for more than two days
  • Has a fever of 104F or higher at any given time
  • Has a fever of 100.4F or higher and is 3 months old or younger
  • Is experiencing shortness of breath, or wheezing
  • Won’t drink or eat
  • Is unusually lethargic

If you have any concerns or questions about your child’s health, call your pediatrician right away.

Kristi Cathey

Hi everyone! My name is Kristi Cathey and I’m glad you found your way to my blog. I am a mother of 3 beautiful angels. This blog was created in order to share my personal experiences in baby care and general health care for pregnant women. If you'd like to get in touch with me, please contact me by sending me an email via Welcome to

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