These New AAP Flu Shot Guidelines Are A Huge Wake-Up Call For Parents

by Cameron Norsworthy

As the summer season winds down, looking all the way ahead to flu season still feels a bit premature, doesn't it? Well, not exactly. In fact, these new flu shot guidelines say when to vaccinate your kid and insist that parents schedule their kids' appointment sooner rather than later, with pre-fall being the best time to get vaccinated against the nasty bug. But how soon do experts recommend now?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stresses that everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu shot — period. Given that flu season could start in the fall or the winter, it's best to err on the side of caution and take care of it before the virus is spreading. Because of this, the AAP insists that all kids should be vaccinated by the end of October.

But, as some believe, won't early vaccination prevent the protection from lasting? In a word: No. "There is no evidence that administering the influenza vaccine early in the season increases the risk of infection for children," AAP wrote in the new guidance. So you and your little ones might as well get the shot ASAP.

There is a chance, though, that your 6-month to 8-year-old child might need two independent doses of the vaccine, the AAP advises. For example, if your child has not received two or more "trial doses" of any "trivalent or quadrivalent vaccine" prior to July 1, 2017, then AAP recommends two vaccine doses, spaced four weeks apart from each other.

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Or, if you're sure of the specific type of vaccines that your child has had in the past? As always, ask your pediatrician. But, if for whatever reason you're unsure, the AAP recommends going for the two doses anyways.

Seeing as the flu shot has been released this year, what's the hold up, really? Bring the whole family (grandma and grandpa, too) to your local doctor or pharmacy and just get it over with, for the sake of everyone's health.

"When you immunize your kid, you first and foremost protect them, you secondarily protect your family, and third, you protect those kids who can't get the shot, those older people who won't mount a great response to the vaccine and can get really sick when they're exposed, and those babies who are too young to be immunized," Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, executive director of digital health at Seattle Children's Hospital, shared with NPR.

The specifics of the flu are unpredictable, but "influenza epidemics are inevitable," Mary Anne Jackson, chief of the pediatric infectious diseases section at Children's Mercy Hospitals & Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri, told MPR News. Don't wait until half of your kid's class is out sick to snag the shot — as these guidelines suggest, it's better to get it done now rather than later.