While our focus remains on the COVID-19 pandemic, we still should be protected against the influenza (flu) this season. Flu season is typically from October through May, so we’re roughly at the halfway point—although the flu can be diagnosed year-round. While there remain a lot of questions about how this flu season is being impacted by the novel coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics, has released updated recommendations for the 2020–2021 flu season for physicians and parents alike.
Here are some key points to make understanding the flu and flu prevention simple:
- All children aged six months and older should be immunized with a flu shot. If your children haven’t yet received their vaccine, there’s still time.
- If an infant or young child has never before received a flu shot, they will need two doses. The first shot, followed by a second dose at least four weeks later, ensures they have the best possible immune response to the vaccine.
- Parents and caregivers of children should receive their flu shot too. In particular, caregivers of children too young to be immunized should get their shot.
- FluMist®, an intranasal vaccine is available to healthy children over the age of two. The AAP recommends FluMist® equally to flu shot. Which method is right for your child is worth a discussion with the doctor.
- Infants, children, and adults with egg allergy can still receive the flu shot.
- Pregnant women can receive the flu shot but not the FluMist® at any time during their pregnancy.
- Breastfeeding mothers can also safely receive the flu shot.
- Frequent hand washing, particularly before eating, is an important way of preventing the flu. Influenza is transmitted through respiratory droplets from sneezing and coughing.
- One hundred sixty-six children died during the 2019–2020 flu season, a large percentage of whom had not been vaccinated.