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Does my child need a flu shot?

girl sneezingIn most cases, the answer is yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for children ages 6 months and older. Vaccination is especially important for children younger than age 5 and those with a chronic health condition like asthma or diabetes because they’re at higher risk of flu complications (like pneumonia) if they get the flu.

If your child is younger than age 9 and this is the first year getting the flu shot, he or she will need two doses four weeks apart. Start as soon as the vaccine is available in your area, usually September: If your child is exposed to the flu before the second dose, he or she will have little protection against infection. Most other children need one dose, but talk with your doctor to see what’s recommended. It also takes up to two weeks after vaccination to be fully protected, so the earlier your child is vaccinated, the better.

When shouldn’t your child get a flu shot? If your child has an egg allergy or had a severe reaction to last year’s flu shot, he or she may not be able to get the vaccine. Talk with your doctor about your options. Your doctor also may recommend postponing a flu shot if your child has a fever or has received other vaccines within the past four weeks.

For more information, visit the Family Medicine section of our website.