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Flu vaccine and your children
This year, Massachusetts public health officials announced that the influenza immunization (flu shot) will be required for all children ages 6 months of age or older who are attending childcare or school. This is an important step in reducing the impact of the flu virus which will be occurring during the same time as the respiratory virus, COVID-19, this winter. Some parents may have questions, however, about the safety and benefits of their children receiving the flu vaccine.
Shirley Huang, MD
Pediatric Primary Care
at Tufts Medical Center answers some common questions about the seasonal flu vaccine.
Why should children get the flu vaccine?
Influenza is more dangerous than the common cold for children, especially those that are younger than 5 years old. The risk for children 2 years and under is even higher. Every year, many children need to be hospitalized when they get the flu. Complications can include pneumonia, dehydration, and in rare cases, even death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting the flu vaccine.
Is my child too young to get the flu vaccine?
Children who are 6 months and older should get the seasonal vaccine each year.
Is the flu vaccine safe?
The flu vaccine is very safe. Extensive research is done each year to support the safety of flu vaccines. Any side effects of the flu vaccine are generally mild and go away on their own within a few days. Side effects of the flu shot may include soreness at the injection site, slight fever, headache, or muscle aches.
How effective is the flu vaccine?
Flu viruses are very smart and are constantly changing. A new vaccine is made each year to protect against the flu and make it as effective as possible. The flu vaccination effectiveness wears off after a year so it’s important to receive a new dose annually. If you have not yet received this year’s vaccine, now is the time to get it!