From the American Academy of Pediatrics:
All children should receive the flu shot as soon as it is available.
This season, the AAP recommends that pediatricians offer the injectable form of the vaccine to all children 6 months and older as soon as it becomes available, preferably by the end of October. The AAP recommends the injectable flu vaccine as the primary choice for children because it has provided the most consistent protection against all strains of the flu virus in recent years.
The AAP and CDC also support the use of the nasal spray vaccine – or live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV4) – for the 2018-2019 season with the aim of adequate vaccination coverage and optimal protection in children of all ages.
Since the nasal spray did not work as well against influenza A/H1N1 strain during the 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 flu seasons, it was not recommended in the U.S. for the past two flu seasons. Vaccine effectiveness can vary from one flu season to the next. The effectiveness of the latest nasal spray vaccine for this upcoming season is more of an unknown against the influenza A/H1N1 strain.
Therefore, AAP recommends the flu shot as the first choice for children.
“The flu virus is common – and unpredictable. It can cause serious complications even in healthy children,” said Flor M. Munoz, MD, FAAP, member of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases. “Being immunized reduces the risk of a child being hospitalized due to flu.”
The 2017-2018 flu season became one of the most severe seasons on record, excluding pandemics, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of Aug. 18, 2018, a total of 179 children died of influenza-associated deaths, and thousands more were hospitalized. About 80 percent of the children who died had not received a flu vaccination, according to the CDC.
“Staying healthy is the goal for all of us. As a pediatrician and mom, I see too often how quickly the flu spreads,” said Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBA, FAAP, a pediatrician in Seattle and an AAP spokesperson. “Unfortunately, you can spread influenza without realizing it because some infected people begin to spread the virus a day or two before they have symptoms. Get the shot. It just makes sense.”