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Patients and Families_Flu 2018-19

Flu Vaccine Recommendations, 2019-2020

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Seasonal influenza, or “the flu," can be a serious illness for children of all ages, causing them to miss school, activities, or be hospitalized. Each year many children get sick from the flu. That’s why CHKD pediatricians recommend children 6 months and older get vaccinated every year. Contact your CHKD pediatrician to schedule an appointment today.

New This Year

This year, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children receive either the injectable form of the vaccine or the nasal spray as soon as it becomes available, and preferably before the end of October. This differs from last year, when the AAP recommended only the injectable vaccine for children, except in cases when a child refused the shot.

After reviewing flu data following reformulation of the nasal spray vaccine to make it more effective, the AAP supports either form of the vaccine this fall. Some children who fear needles may feel more comfortable getting the nasal spray vaccine, so pediatricians being able to offer both options is expected to boost vaccination rates. Learn more from the AAP here.

What is Flu?

The flu is a contagious viral infection of the upper, and sometimes lower respiratory system that infects the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and in some cases, even death. The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. 

CMG Pediatricians support the CDC recommendations that all people older than 6 months of age should receive influenza vaccine every year. Contact your pediatrician about obtaining this vaccine to protect your children and family. It is particularly important for children and families of children with chronic illnesses to receive the vaccine. This includes children and family members with young children, immunocompromised individuals, diabetes, asthma and other conditions.

Signs and Symptoms of Flu

Influenza is called a respiratory disease, but the whole body can suffer when a child has it. Children usually come down with any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Runny or Stuffy Nose
  • Muscle or Body Aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue 

How Does Flu Spread?

Flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets that spray out of an infected person’s mouth and nose when he/she sneezes or coughs. Flu can also spread by touching something that has the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.

Cold vs. Flu

Cold symptoms

Flu symptoms

Low or no fever

High fever

Sometimes a headache

Headache (very common)

Stuffy, runny nose

Clear nose or stuffy nose


Sometimes sneezing

Mild, hacking cough

Cough, often becoming severe

Slight aches and pains

Often severe aches and pains

Mild fatigue

Several weeks of fatigue

Sore throat

Sometimes a sore throat

Normal energy level or may feel sluggish

Extreme exhaustion


The single best way to protect your children from flu is to have them vaccinated; it is not too late. Be aware that children 6 months through 8 years of age require two doses of influenza vaccine separated by at least 28 days in the first season that they receive the vaccine. Be sure to talk to your CHKD pediatrician about which flu vaccine is right for your child.

When possible, avoid or limit contact with people who have the flu. Frequent hand washing may also reduce, but not eliminate the risk for infection. And remind your child to cough into his or her elbow or a tissue to prevent the spread of flu.

Keep your children home if they're sick. This will keep the flu from spreading to others.


If you think your child has the flu, call your regular doctor for advice. Since the flu is caused by a virus, antibiotics like penicillin won't help. Children with the flu, especially if they have a chronic underlying condition like asthma, sometimes need prescription antiviral medications. 

Your child’s pediatrician may prescribe medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve aches and fever. Aspirin should never be given to children or teenagers  who have flu-like symptoms - particularly fever.

It’s also important that your child get lots of rest and drink lots of fluids. Keep in mind, antiviral medications may help shorten the length of the illness and ease the severity of symptoms, but they do not cure the flu.

The vast majority of children who get influenza recover without treatment in a week or two, but in rare cases, the illness can lead to more serious complications, such as pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes.

Call Your Pediatrician If:

  • Your child has a high fever, over 103 degrees, that does not respond to over-the-counter fever medications (i.e., acetaminophen or ibuprofen).
  • Your child's fever lasts longer than five days or goes away and then returns.
  • Your child has difficulty breathing, or exhibits fast, hard breathing.
  • Your child is listless or has no interest in playing or other activities.
  • Your child is inconsolable and cannot be calmed down.
  • Your child is not drinking fluids or not keeping fluids down. 

In most cases, it is not a good idea to bring your child to the emergency department for the flu unless your regular doctor tells you to. In emergency departments, the sickest children are seen first. Since the flu is very rarely a medical emergency, you could wait for hours to see a doctor. If your child does have the flu, he or she will be spreading it to others in the waiting room. If your child does not have the flu, the waiting room of a busy emergency center during flu season is a very likely place to catch it.

Additional Information For Parents:

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

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