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AAP Recommends Flu Shots for Kids 6 Months and Older during COVID-19 Pandemic

September 07, 2021

All healthy children 6 months and older should receive the flu shot this fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended today.

In its latest recommendations, the AAP said children can receive the flu vaccine at the same time as other routine immunizations and the COVID-19 vaccine. The policy statement is set to be published next month in Pediatrics.

The new policy statement comes as children across the nation return to school and as public health officials raise concerns about the potential for a particularly challenging season for upper respiratory viruses.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to remember that influenza is also a highly contagious respiratory virus that can cause severe illness and even death in children,” Flor Munoz, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement and technical report, said in a statement. “The flu vaccine is safe, effective, and can be given alongside other routine immunizations and the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Here are the key takeaways from the AAP policy statement:

  • Children with acute, moderate, or severe COVID-19 should not receive the flu vaccine until they have recovered. Those with mild illness can be vaccinated
  • Pregnant women should receive an inactivated influenza vaccine at any time during pregnancy. Postpartum women who did not receive vaccination during pregnancy should receive the flu shot before discharge from the hospital
  • It’s particularly important to vaccinate children in high-risk groups and their contacts, unless contraindicated
  • Children 8 and younger who are getting flu shots for the first time should receive the vaccine in two doses, four weeks apart. Ideally, vaccination should occur before the end of October

“This year it will be especially important to keep our children healthy, as we’ve seen hospital beds and emergency services fill beyond capacity in communities where transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses remains high,” Dr. Munoz said in a statement. “This means catching up on all immunizations, including the flu vaccine, and making sure children wash hands frequently, wear masks in school and during indoor group activities, and maintain physical distance from others.”

While the vaccine does not completely prevent flu infection, it significantly reduces the risks for severe illness or hospitalization. Last year, the flu season was down considerably from previous years, with remote learning and ongoing masking and social distancing measures limiting the spread of the virus.

HAP joins organizations around the country urging everyone who is eligible to receive the flu vaccine this fall. Flu season begins during October and continues through mid-March.

More information about the flu shot for children and adults is available online.

For more information, contact HAP’s Infection Preventionists Mary T. Catanzaro, RN, BSMT (ASCP) CIC FAPIC, or Clare Edelmayer, RN, MT (ASCP), MS, CIC, FAPIC.