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Now is the time to protect kids from the flu

A child and a healthcare provider hold their hands together in the shape of a heart.

Sept. 22, 2020—Flu season is coming, folks. And this year, the flu shot is more important than ever. To make sure hospitals have enough resources for COVID-19 patients, we need to do everything we can to avoid a major flu outbreak as well.

Besides getting your own shot, you'll want to protect your kiddos before the flu arrives. The best way: Make sure your child gets an approved flu vaccine as soon as it's available.

And for those who can't stand the shot, the nasal spray is an option again this year.

Why it's so important to protect kids

The flu makes everyone feel bad. But it can make kids even sicker than adults. Some become so sick that they have to go to a hospital for treatment. And while it's scary to think about, some kids even die from severe complications of the flu.

That's why the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want all children ages 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine every single year. They recommend doing that by the end of October. That way your child will be protected before the viruses that cause the flu start to spread in the fall.

Which vaccine is best?

Two types of flu vaccine are offered to children this year. One is a shot. The other is a nasal spray. The nasal spray is for healthy children ages 2 and up. It's not recommended every flu season, but health experts say this year's nasal spray is as good as a flu shot. So you can take your pick.

The most important thing is to get either vaccine for your child as soon as you can.

First-timers need two doses

If this is the first flu vaccine your child has ever had, you may need to see the provider again later for a second vaccine. Young children need two doses at first to build up their immunity. They should be spaced at least four weeks apart. That's another reason to get your child's flu shots as soon as possible. Your little one may not be fully vaccinated until after the second dose kicks in.

Your child's doctor can tell you if your child needs two vaccines.

For grownups too

It's important that you and others in your home get the flu vaccine too. Doing so helps protect your whole family. This is especially important if your child is too young to get a flu shot (younger than 6 months).

How does the flu spread?

Check out this infographic to find out—and to learn other simple ways to avoid the flu.

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