Parents have so much going on in the next 60 days. We have to get the kids ready for back-to-school, plan what we're going to put in those cute little lunchboxes and figure out what everyone is going to wear for Halloween.
We know you are really busy right now, mama. But the CDC and family physicians want you to add one more thing to your to-do list: Get everyone a flu shot before Halloween.
The CDC recommends people get vaccinated against influenza by the end of October because it takes about two weeks for protective antibodies to develop in the body.
That means that you might want to book a doctor's appointment now so that you have one less thing to think about as a busy season begins.
The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) urges parents to get proactive by having their child get a flu shot as soon as possible, before the end of the month if you can (but even if you get the shot after Halloween it will still be effective).
"The flu virus is common—and unpredictable. It can cause serious complications even in healthy children," said Flor M. Munoz, MD, FAAP, member of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases, in a policy statement. "Being immunized reduces the risk of a child being hospitalized due to flu."
Last year the AAP recommended the shot over the nasal spray, but this flu season the AAP supports the use of either.
"All children six months and older should receive the flu vaccine, in whatever form their pediatrician recommends," said Bonnie Maldonado, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases. "Every year, we are never sure if the vaccine strains are going to be perfectly matched up with incoming flu strains, but based on the information that we have now, we believe the nasal spray is an acceptable option."
According to the AAP, more parents are choosing to get kids vaccinated. Last year about 45% of children received the vaccine by November 2018, while it was only 38% in November 2017.
The AAP hopes to see those stats increase again this year.
In addition to children getting the vaccine as soon as it's available, the AAP also recommends pregnant women receive the vaccine, which passes immunity onto the baby.
[A version of this post was originally published October 17, 2018. It has been updated.]