Why the 2020 Flu Vaccine is Necessary for Your Family This Year
Every year we share information about that year’s flu vaccine. As pediatric providers, we believe wholeheartedly in the importance of receiving the vaccine for influenza, and this year is no exception. This year, it is even more critical for families to act early in getting their family vaccinated.
First and foremost, when you are exposed to a virus, your immune system is weakened, which decreases your ability to fight off other illnesses. Unlike other years, this year brings the potential of getting not only the flu but also COVID-19. It is possible to get both illnesses at the same time. As a country, we need to take precautions in the hopes of avoiding a “combined pandemic” of flu and COVID-19 cases and reduce the burden of overrunning our hospitals and health care facilities. This means being proactive and getting the flu vaccine while also following recommendations for wearing masks and social distancing.
Here are some answers to common questions regarding the 2020 flu vaccine.
- Does my child need more than one dose of the flu vaccine this year? The answer to this depends on the child’s age and whether this is the first year they receive the flu vaccine. The 2020 flu vaccine is safe for children six months and older. Children younger than nine who have not received a flu vaccine in previous years should receive two doses spread about four weeks apart. Also, children younger than nine who have only ever received one dose of the flu vaccine and have not received any other doses in their lifetime should receive a second dose this year.
- Should my child receive the flu vaccine via nasal spray or shot this year? Both the nasal spray vaccine (live attenuated) and the “flu shot” (inactivated) are available to children this year. Both vaccines are options for families according to their indications. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have no preference.
- Does my child need a flu vaccine this year if they’ve already tested positive for COVID-19? The AAP and CDC recommend that children who have recovered from COVID-19 symptoms receive a flu vaccine.
- Against which flu strains will this year’s vaccine provide protection? The 2020 flu vaccine will protect against four strains: two types A and two type B virus strains.
- Is it safe to receive the flu vaccine while pregnant? According to the AAP, it is safe for pregnant women to receive the inactivated vaccine at any point during pregnancy.
Don’t put off your child’s flu vaccine by waiting until the flu begins to circulate in your community. It can take two weeks to build immunity against influenza. The AAP recommends that families receive the flu vaccine before the end of October. Call your child’s pediatrician to schedule their 2020 flu vaccine today.