ATLANTA — The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released its 2022-2023 influenza vaccine guidelines, recommending that "all children ages 6 months and older be vaccinated for influenza this fall, as vaccines remain the best way to prevent severe illness and keep kids in classrooms."
In addition, the AAP emphasized some kids may need two doses of the flu shot this year for protection.
The guidelines come as doctors see an increase in flu activity reported in Georgia, ahead of the regular flu season.
"We've lost seasonal patterns we're used to," Dr. Matt Linam, with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, explained. "I think it's that long period of time where everyone was isolating at home threw off natural immunity. We have whole cohorts of children that were never exposed to these things in the past."
In addition, the AAP reports flu vaccination levels dropped last year, with only 55% of children vaccinated to protect against influenza.
This year, the AAP urges families not to delay, saying prompt immunization against the flu is vital for kids who need two doses.
CHILDREN WHO MAY NEED TWO DOSES OF THE FLU VACCINE
According to the AAP, kids who should receive two doses of influenza vaccine, at least four weeks apart, include:
- Children 6 months through 8 years who are receiving the flu vaccine for the first time
- Children who received only one dose before July 1, 2022
- Children whose vaccination status is unknown
All other children should receive one dose this season. In addition, the AAP recommends:
- Emphasis should be placed on ensuring that high-risk and medically vulnerable children and their household contacts and caregivers receive the annual influenza vaccine.
- Increased efforts are needed to eliminate barriers to immunization in all persons experiencing higher rates of influenza-related adverse outcomes.
- Children eligible for the flu and COVID-19 vaccine can receive them at the same visit.
- Pregnant women may receive the flu vaccine anytime to protect themselves and their infants. Influenza vaccination during breastfeeding is safe for mothers and their infants.
WHEN TO GET A FLU SHOT
"Flu before boo," Dr. Linam said. "It's just a great reminder to get your flu shot in before Halloween, and for families who have children who need two shots, keep that in mind you may want to start earlier because you have to wait a month between the first and second dose."