FAQ: Influenza Vaccine

Do we recommend the flu vaccine? ALWAYS

All children over the age of 6 months should get the flu vaccine. Especially this year. Influenza kills 50,000-70,000 people every single year and that is with a vaccine and antivirals. 188 children died from the flu last season.  NO child should ever die from something we can prevent.

What is influenza or the flu?

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu is different from a cold. Flu usually comes on suddenly.  People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms: fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (tiredness), some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

Is the flu shot 100% effective against the flu?

Unfortunately not, but it makes it a much milder illness and reduces the risk of complications like secondary bacterial pneumonias, and ear infections.  It dramatically reduces the risk of hospitalization and death in children.  A flu shot is like wearing a seat belt in the car, it doesn’t guarantee no injury, but greatly reduces the risk.

Can my child get the flu from the flu shot? NO

We give the inactivated flu vaccine and the live attenuated flumist.  Neither vaccine can give you influenza. It is possible to have an immune reaction which causes achiness and low grade fever, similar to your childs other vaccine, but the good news is that means your body is creating good protection against the flu!

FluMist vs. Flu Vaccine?

Both vaccines are being recommended this year, without one vaccine being preferred over another.

Flumist is a attenuated live virus vaccine. The virus has been changed so it is no longer infectious.

The flu shot has particles designed to look like the flu virus to induce antibodies to the flu.


As with the flu shot, the effectiveness of Flumist will vary from year to year. This is because it includes the flu strains that are predicted to be circulating, and nature has a way of thwarting the best guesses of the experts. But they continue to work towards an effective vaccine for each flu season.

Flumist side effects include nasal congestion, fever, sore throat, fatigue and muscle aches.

Flu Shot side effects include redness and swelling at injection site, fever, headache, fatigue and muscle aches.

Those who must avoid Flumist include:

  • Children younger than 2 years
  • Adults 50 years and older
  • People with a history of severe allergic reaction to any ingredient of the vaccine or to a previous dose of any influenza vaccine
  • Children 2 years through 17 years old who are receiving aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications.
  • Children 2 years through 4 years old who have asthma or who have had a history of wheezing in the past 12 months
  • People with weakened immune systems (immunosuppression) from any cause
  • People who care for severely immunocompromised persons who require a protected environment (or otherwise avoid contact with those persons for 7 days after getting the nasal spray vaccine)
  • People without a spleen, or with a non-functioning spleen
  • Pregnant women
  • People with an active leak between the cerebrospinal fluid and the mouth, nose, ear, or other place within the skull
  • People with cochlear implants
  • People who have taken flu antiviral drugs within the previous 48 hours for oseltamivir and zanamivir, previous 5 days for peramivir, and previous 17 days for baloxavir.

How many does of the flu vaccine should my child get?

Some children 6 months to 8 years old require two doses of flu vaccine for adequate protection from flu. Children in this age group getting vaccinated for the first time, and those who have only previously gotten one dose of vaccine, should get two doses of vaccine this season—spaced at least 4 weeks apart.

Does flu vaccine work right away?

No. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection.