Is the flu shot safe for children?

The flu shot is very safe for children, so the best advice is to have kids -- and everyone else in the family -- vaccinated. Watch as I dispel the myth that the flu shot causes illness and urges you to get vaccinated.
Not only is the flu shot safe for children, it's critical, especially for kids under 5. Very young children can suffer severe and even deadly complications from the virus. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that on average, 20,000 children are hospitalized each year because of flu. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older receive an annual flu shot.
Diana K. Blythe, MD

The flu shot is safe for children! In fact, it is even more important that young children get the flu shot because getting the flu, or influenza, can make children more sick than adults.

Children are more likely to be exposed to the flu, or influenza, because children are more likely to be in crowded areas at daycares, camps, and schools. In addition, children do not always cover their coughs and wash their hands. Even children who stay at home, but whose siblings go to school are at risk for getting the flu.

Is the flu vaccine safe?

Side effects rarely happen after getting the flu vaccine.

The shot form of the flu vaccine contains a dead flu virus—this means you cannot get the flu from the shot form of the vaccine. Mild redness and irritation at the injection site are possible side effects of the shot form of the vaccine.

The nasal spray form of the flu vaccine contains weakened, live flu virus. Possible side effects of the nasal spray form of the vaccine may be similar to flu symptoms (runny nose, headache), although not as severe.

Vaccines do not cause autism.

Some flu vaccines contain thimerosal, a preservative that keeps germs from getting into the vaccine. Experts have conducted many studies that prove there is no link between thimerosal and autism.

Who needs the flu vaccine?

For this year’s flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the vaccine for everyone age 6 months and older.

Remember, everyone in your family must get vaccinated to protect any children who are too young to get the vaccine.

If your child is younger than age 9 and has never received a flu vaccine, he will need two vaccine doses to be protected.

Continue Learning about Vaccine



Vaccines work to protect your body against germs. Because of vaccines, many of the diseases that can cause severe sickness, handicaps and death have been eradicated. Learn more from our experts about vaccines.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.