The 2017-18 flu season was a devastating one – a total of 179 children died from influenza-associated illness, and thousands more were hospitalized. We don’t track the number of adult flu-related deaths in the same way, but it was a difficult year for adult patients as well. About 80% of the children who died had not gotten the flu vaccine and the flu shot remains our best way to protect children and adults from severe influenza infections and influenza-related complications and death.
Many people have questions about the nasal spray vaccine, which has not been recommended in the U.S. for the past two flu seasons since it did not work as well against certain dangerous strains of the flu and we still don’t know how effective the nasal spray might be this year as strains change every season.
Here are some flu shot recommendations for this year:
- Every child 6 months and older should receive a flu vaccine this fall. If it’s your child’s first time getting the flu shot and they are 8 years old or younger, they’ll need two doses a month apart the first year only.
- Pregnant women can and should receive the injected flu vaccine at any time during pregnancy.
- Adults should get a flu vaccine as well, especially those at higher risk for severe illness like people over 65 or anyone with a chronic medical condition.
- People with egg allergy can still typically get the influenza vaccine – check with your doctor if you have questions.
- We still recommend the injected vaccine whenever possible because it is more likely to better protect someone. If a family member refuses the injected vaccine or it is unavailable, the nasal spray vaccine can be used this year.
If you have questions about the flu vaccine, be sure to ask your primary care doctor.