Why doctors want kids to get flu shot before Halloween this year

"It is more important than ever for everyone over 6 months old to be vaccinated."

Flu shot by halloween

Parents have so much going on right now. And even with so much on our plates in 2020, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends adding one more task to the to-do list: They want kids to get the flu vaccine by the end of October.

According to the AAP, every kid over six months old should get the flu shot before Halloween this year to prevent a twin pandemic of COVID-19 and influenza. According to the AAP and the CDC, most fatal influenza cases in kids (80%) occur in children who didn't get a flu shot.

"As a pediatrician, I am very concerned about the health of children and their families this fall if these two potentially deadly viruses are circulating in the community at the same time," says Flor Munoz, MD, FAAP, lead author of the recommendations, developed by the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases.

So you might want to book an appointment now so that you have one less task to think about in the coming weeks.

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 it will still be effective even if you get the shot after Halloween.

By taking steps to book appointments before Halloween, parents can make sure their children are protected when flu season ramps up in November and as the pandemic continues.

"During a pandemic, we can work together to reduce the risks of infection and of spreading illness to others," Dr. Munoz said. "Besides getting our vaccine to prevent influenza, we can be vigilant in making sure we and our children continue to maintain COVID-19 precautions, including social distancing, face coverings and frequent handwashing."

This year's flu vaccine will include two A and B flu strains and can be administered to children through a shot or nasal spray (just check with your doctor to figure out which licensed, age-appropriate vaccine is right for your child).

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.]

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