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Why Can't We Get the Nasal Flu Vaccine This Year?

My whole family was happy last year when we could get our flu vaccines through the nasal spray, but I'm hearing we won't be able to do that this year and our only option is the shot. Why? And how can I help reduce my son's fear when we go in for the shots?

Emily Bendlin | Pediatrician

Emily Bendlin

Both the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics are discouraging the nasal spray vaccine this season; studies have shown the spray did not protect against some of the most widely seen strains of influenza the past three seasons. The CDC found that the spray was effective only 3% of the time whereas the shot vaccine was 63% effective in the 2015-2016 season.

If your child asks if they’re going to be getting a shot, don’t lie to them. Explain what the shot is for and how it will help protect them from getting sick. Tell them that the shot will hurt for a little bit, but then it will be all over. Applying an anesthetic cream to numb the area before the shot will help reduce the pain from the shot. Ask your physician which brand he or she recommends. You can help distract your child during the shot by telling a joke or funny story or having your child squeeze your hand. You may also want to offer a reward after the shot like a sticker or small sucker or a family outing to the bowling alley.

Your children can start receiving the flu vaccine after thy are 6 months of age. Pregnant women and those breastfeeding should also get the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their baby. The flu season is unpredictable, but most health care providers will begin administering the shots no later than October and give them all the way up until June 30th. The flu shot is going to be your family’s best defense against the flu this season, and we want to keep you all healthy!

Read more answers by Dr. Bendlin