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Myths and Facts About Flu and Children

Young African American girlMyth: Flu vaccination is not necessary each year.
Fact: Vaccination is the first, and most important, step to protect your entire family against influenza (flu), each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual vaccination for everyone 6 months and older. In fact, the immune protection from the flu vaccine declines over time, so annual vaccination is necessary to provide the best protection.

Myth: You or your child can get the flu from the influenza vaccine.
Fact: Flu vaccination is safe, effective, and time-tested; you cannot get the flu from the vaccine, whether you chose the injection or the nasal spray vaccine. The flu vaccine contains virus strains that are either inactivated (injected vaccine) or weakened (nasal spray) and matched to the most commonly circulating influenza viruses that year. However, it typically takes two weeks for the vaccine to become effective. It is possible that within those two weeks an individual – not yet fully protected by the vaccine – can develop flu. This is why it is important to get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available in your community.

Myth: If your child is healthy, he or she does not need to get the flu vaccine.
Fact: Even healthy children are at risk for getting sick from flu. Vaccination is necessary this season even if you were vaccinated last year. Because immunity to the vaccine weakens, annual vaccination is a critical step to stay healthy. CDC recommends that everyone age 6 and older get vaccinated against flu every year.

Myth: The flu is nothing more than just a bad cold or the “stomach flu.”
Fact: Flu should not be confused with a bad cold or “stomach flu.” Influenza is more serious than the common cold and in mild cases causes high fever, head and body aches, coughing for days, severe fatigue for up to two weeks or more. It is estimated that an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized due to flu complications. CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older.

Myth: You should not receive the flu vaccine if you’re pregnant.
Fact: Influenza vaccination is the best and safest way for pregnant women to protect themselves from the flu. Pregnant women are more prone to severe illness from the flu, including hospitalizations and even death. Pregnant women who are vaccinated are significantly less likely to have a miscarriage or a premature baby. The flu vaccine is not recommended for children younger than 6 months of age, but pregnant women who get vaccinated during pregnancy pass their immunity to their newborn baby, which helps protect them from getting influenza which can be deadly.

Myth: There is nothing you can do if your child gets the flu.
Fact: Know the symptoms. If your child does get sick, contact your doctor immediately to discuss treatment options. Prescription antiviral drugs can make the illness milder, make your child feel better faster, and may also prevent serious flu complications.

Get the FACTS about Flu

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends annual flu vaccination for all individuals age 6 months and older.


Additional Resources

Freddie the Flu Detective

Public service announcement (:30 animated video) on how to detect, prevent, and treat the flu from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases