With flu cases still high (but decreasing), pediatricians are urging families to get this year’s flu vaccine.

Which Kids are Eligible for the Flu Vaccine?

Flu vaccines (in shot form) can be given to children 6 months and older. If your baby is under 6 months old, it’s important for ALL of his/her caregivers to get the flu vaccine, so that you can indirectly protect him/her against the flu. Kids 2 years & older are also eligible for the intranasal (up the nose) form of the flu vaccine. The intranasal flu vaccine is a spray (not a shot), which makes it an easier sell. (Insider Info: The intranasal flu vaccine was taken of the market for the 2017-2017 flu season because experts didn’t think it was as effective as the shot. However, a new and improved version was introduced during the 2018-2019 flu season, and it’s still going strong.)1

I’ve Heard That the Flu Vaccine (A) Doesn’t Work and (B) Can Give Me the Flu. So, Why Should I Bother Getting It For Myself and For My Child?

I hear you. There are a lot of myths about the flu vaccine floating around. Let’s address these two concerns below:

Concern #1: The Flu Vaccine Doesn’t Work. 

The Reality: The flu vaccine isn’t the most effective vaccine in the world, but it’s still worth getting.

Why Doesn’t It Provide Better Coverage? Because the flu virus is always mutating, making it hard to accurately predict what it’s going to look like each flu season. To combat this problem, the flu vaccine is updated annually. Each year, experts try to predict which strains of the flu virus should be covered by the flu vaccine in the U.S.

How Do They Do This? By analyzing what happened during the flu season in the Southern Hemisphere (think: South America and Australia), which occurs before our flu season.

Despite these efforts, the flu vaccine’s efficacy typically hovers around 40-60% (when it comes to preventing the flu).On the bright side, it often leads to milder cases of the flu in those who DO get infected.

Concern #2: The Flu Vaccine Gives You the Flu.

The flu shot is a “dead” vaccine, meaning that it can’t “give you” the flu. Still, most doctors have heard stories of patients who “got the flu” after receiving their flu shot. What’s probably happening here is that these patients either developed side effects of the flu vaccine OR coincidentally got the flu (or another illness like the flu) around the same time they received their flu shot.

Insider Info: Unlike the flu shot, the “intranasal” flu vaccine (the one that’s sprayed up the nose) is a “live” vaccine. Because of this, it could conceivably produce mild flu symptoms. This is unlikely, though, given that the vaccine contains a weakened form of the virus.

The Bottom Line:
Even though the flu vaccine isn’t perfect, it’s still our best weapon against the flu as we head into what’s expected to be a “bad” flu season.

Get Wise(r) About the Flu and the Flu Shot Here. Want to Do a Deeper Dive Into the Flu Vaccine? Check Out the Top 10 Questions Parents Have About the Flu Vaccine Here.