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Which Flu Vaccine Should My Children Get This Year?

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By: Flor M. Muñoz, MD, FAAP

It's that time of year again―flu season. Many people don't realize it, but the flu can be a very serious illness. It causes thousands of deaths in the United States every year, many of which are among previously healthy children.

As a parent, the best thing you can do to protect your children from the flu is to get them vaccinated before the flu starts circulating in your community. Everyone around them should be vaccinated, too.

What types of influenza vaccines are available?

This year, the 2019-2020 influenza season, there are two types of influenza vaccines available. The first is what many people call the "flu shot." The second comes as a nasal spray. All the vaccines available for children this year contain four influenza viruses, two A and two B viruses. Vaccines for adults may contain three or four viruses.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children 6 months of age and older receive an influenza vaccine, and both types of available flu vaccine (flu shot or nasal spray) can be given according to their indications, with no preference, for the 2019-2020 flu season.


Should I get the shot or nasal spray for my child this year? 

Both the AAP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) want as many children as possible to get a flu vaccine each and every year.

The AAP recommendation this year is that all children 6 months and older should get their flu vaccine, ideally by the end of October, to ensure that protection is in place when the flu virus starts circulating in the community.

The AAP recommends that any licensed vaccine available this year and appropriate for a child's age and health status be given to children, with no preference.


Why the change from last season? 

The AAP and CDC have reviewed the latest effectiveness data available for the nasal spray vaccine and for the flu shot, and made the decision that both vaccines would work similarly to protect children this year.

Don't wait to get vaccinated! 

It is important that the vaccine is given to as many children as possible, before the flu starts circulating in your community, and therefore, you should not wait for a particular type of vaccine to be available to vaccinate your child.

How To Help Your Family Fight Flu

Remember, getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your children, and other loved ones from the flu!

Additional Information & Resources:

About Dr. Muñoz: 

Flor_MunozFlor Muñoz, MD, MSc, FAAP, is associate professor of Pediatrics and Infectious Diseases at Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine. She is an investigator in various projects focusing on vaccines and the epidemiology of respiratory infections, including those supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She has published extensively on topics related to vaccines and influenza. Dr Muñoz is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases and of the American College of Gynecologists (ACOG) Immunization Expert Work Group. She also serves on the Influenza and the Pertussis Work Groups of the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

Last Updated
Committee on Infectious Diseases (Copyright © 2019 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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