Everyone should get a flu vaccine each year, as long as they are at least six months old and have no true contraindications.
That has been the recommendation since at least the 2010-11 flu season.
And while most kids get vaccinated, not all do.
Are Your Kids at High Risk for Flu Complications?
There are some kids, those at high risk for flu complications, who definitely shouldn’t skip or delay their flu vaccine.
- all children aged 6 through 59 months (younger than age 5 years);
- children who have chronic medical conditions, including pulmonary (such as asthma and cystic fibrosis), cardiovascular (excluding isolated hypertension), genetic (Down syndrome), renal, hepatic, neurologic (cerebral palsy, epilepsy, stroke, muscular dystrophy, and spina bifida, etc.), hematologic (sickle cell disease), or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus and mitochondrial disorders);
- children who are immunocompromised due to any cause (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV infection);
- teens who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season;
- children and adolescents (aged 6 months through 18 years) who are receiving aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications (like for Kawasaki disease) and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection;
- residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
- American Indians/Alaska Natives;
- children who are extremely obese (body mass index ≥40).
You also shouldn’t skip or delay getting a flu vaccine if your:
- kids are household contacts of children aged ≤59 months (i.e., aged <5 years) and adults aged ≥50 years, particularly contacts of children aged <6 months;
- kids are household contacts of someone with a medical condition that puts them at higher risk for severe complications from influenza.
Again, since everyone should get a flu vaccine, these higher risk classes shouldn’t determine whether or not you vaccinate your kids, but they might influence the timing.
Again, don’t skip your child’s flu vaccine because they aren’t in a flu high risk group.
In most flu seasons, about 80% of children with the flu who die are not vaccinated. And many of them will be otherwise healthy, without an underlying high risk medical condition.
Get your child vaccinated against the flu. And if they are in a high risk group, make sure you do it well before flu season starts and maybe as soon as flu vaccine becomes available in your area.
More on Being at High Risk for Flu Complications
- CDC – People at High Risk of Developing Serious Flu–Related Complications
- CDC – Are You at High Risk for Serious Illness from Flu?
- MMWR – Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices—United States, 2018–19 Influenza Season
- When should I get the influenza vaccine?
- CDC – Study of Flu-Related Deaths in Children Shows Healthy Children at Risk
- Families Fighting Flu
- National Down Syndrome Society Flu Fact Sheet
- Please, Please Get a Flu Shot
- The Flu Shot and CF
- Flu Season Support from the Muscular Dystrophy Association
- Flu and Pneumonia Shots by the American Diabetes Association
- Flu Shots a Must For Kids With Sickle Cell Disease
- Influenza (flu) and pregnancy
- Flu Vaccine and exposure to latex
- Influenza vaccination in asthmatic patients: is there benefit?
- People with Asthma Are at High Risk for Complications from Flu
- CDC – How many flu-associated deaths occur in people who have been vaccinated?
- Influenza Associated Pediatric Mortality Tool
- Ask the Experts About Influenza
- 90 percent of children who died from flu not vaccinated
- CDC Reports About 90 Percent of Children Who Died From Flu This Season Not Vaccinated