Influenza (Seasonal)


The Disease

Almost every child gets the flu (influenza) from time to time. The flu is caused by a virus and usually occurs from October through May. The rates of infection are highest among children, and flu symptoms can last a week or longer. For most people, the flu can cause fever, cough, sore throat, headache, chills, muscle aches, and fatigue. Some people (especially those who have other illnesses) can get much sicker, and can develop symptoms such as high fever or pneumonia. On average, about 36,000 people die each year from influenza.


The Immunization

There are two types of seasonal influenza vaccine: inactivated (killed) vaccine which is given by an injection (shot), and live attenuated (weakened) vaccine that is sprayed into the nostrils.


Because influenza viruses are always changing, scientists work every year to match the viruses in the vaccine to those most likely to cause flu that year. It is recommended that everyone older than 6 months receive flu vaccine. Children younger than 9 years old who have never received a flu shot need to receive 2 doses of vaccine at least 1 month apart. The live attenuated vaccine that is given as a nasal spray should not be given to children under 2 years of age, children with asthma, children on long-term aspirin treatment, or children younger than 5 who have experienced wheezing in the past year.


AAP Recommendations


Quick Facts - What You Need to Know (PDF 28KB)

  • What is influenza?

  • Why get vaccinated?

  • Who should get influenza vaccine and when?

  • Some people should not get influenza vaccine or should wait

  • What are the risks from influenza vaccine?

  • What if there is a moderate or severe reaction?


Other Resources


Last Updated: 10/3/13


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