Influenza/flu is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system (nose, throat, and lungs). This infection spreads by air and direct contact.
Symptoms include fever, muscle pain, sore throat, cough, and extreme fatigue, and it may land in complications like Pneumonia (infection in the lungs), bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, and death.
Influenza outbreaks happen every year. Influenza vaccination is safe for anyone 6 months of age and older. It works by exposing one to a small dose of the flu virus which helps a body to develop immunity against the disease. Vaccination will not treat an existing flu virus infection.
Because the flu virus changes quickly and new strains appear regularly, a new vaccination is needed every year (even though babies may have antibodies to a previous version). It is never 100% effective and some strains will be immune, but it is still the best defense against influenza and will reduce the seriousness of the illness if the baby gets it.
How safe is the flu vaccine?
The influenza vaccine is very safe. It cannot cause the flu. Side effects are usually mild and can include mild soreness where the needle went into the arm for 1 to 2 days, and a mild fever or aches for the first day or 2 after immunisation.
Do not give your child ibuprofen or acetaminophen before or around the time of vaccination as it does not prevent the pain of injection and it could have an impact on how well the vaccine works. These medications can be used to treat fever, pain, or other bothersome side effects if they develop after vaccination.
Can my child get the flu vaccine at the same time as another childhood vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. It is safe to get the seasonal flu vaccine at the same time as (or any time before/after) any childhood vaccine. Many children are behind with their childhood vaccines or boosters because of the COVID-19 pandemic and getting the vaccines at the same time can help them catch up more quickly.
How is the vaccine administered?
A Doctor will inject the Influenza vaccine into the muscle of the upper arm. Vaccination should be repeated every year to protect you from the flu.
It can take up to 2 weeks for the vaccine to work. Therefore, the baby could still develop the illness if exposed to the flu immediately before or after vaccination. The vaccine will not protect the baby against the common cold, even though some of the symptoms are similar to flu.