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Answers to 5 Common Flu Vaccine Questions

Published in Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Infectious Diseases, For the Health of It, Childhood Vaccines Author: Jill Amsberry,DO

It’s that time of year again! School is in session and the temperatures are cooling off and that means cold and flu season is just around the corner. Did you know it takes about two weeks to build immunity from the flu virus after you’ve received your flu vaccine? That’s why we encourage everyone 6 months and older to get their seasonal flu shot now, before flu season starts!

We asked Pediatrician Jill Amsberry, DO of CentraCare – Plaza Clinic Pediatrics to answer some common flu questions — including when your child might need more than one dose.

Schedule your flu vaccine appointment at one of our drive-thru locations or at a clinic near you.

Q. Who should receive the influenza vaccine?

Dr. Amsberry: We recommend vaccination for anyone ages 6 months and older. It’s particularly important in certain populations who are more at risk such as children less than 5, people older than 65 or people with underlying autoimmune diseases such as asthma and other chronic lung issues.

Q. When should the vaccine be received?

Dr. Amsberry: We typically want people to have received the vaccination by the end of October. The vaccine takes about two weeks to develop immunity and we know that the most common time for flu season is end of October through spring — with the peak being January-February.

Q. Why do I have to get the flu shot every year?

Dr. Amsberry: Influenza viruses are constantly changing. Every season, the flu vaccine is updated to protect against the influenza viruses that are found to be the most common during the upcoming season. In addition, immune protection declines over time; the annual flu shot boosts your immunity each year.

Q. How do I know if my child needs multiple doses?

Dr. Amsberry: If your child is 6 months to 8 years of age and has never received the seasonal influenza vaccine or has not received at least two doses in their lifetime before July 1, 2023, they’ll need two doses this season. Flu doses need to be administered at least four weeks apart so it’s a great idea to get the first dose early in the season. The first dose of the vaccine primes your child’s immune system and the second dose creates the antibodies that respond if exposed to the virus. If your child has never had a flu vaccine, one dose is not enough to protect against the flu.

Q. What about the flu mist? Is that a good alternative to the shot?

Dr. Amsberry: Both types of flu vaccine (flu shot or nasal spray) are good options for this flu season. Any influenza vaccine available this year and appropriate for a child’s age and health status can be given, with no preference.

The two-dose guidance should be followed for both flu shot and nasal spray. At CentraCare, we have FluMist available this season for patients ages 2-18 at select clinics. If you’re interested in FluMist for your child, reach out to your clinic or provider to see if FluMist is available and appropriate for your child.