Which Flu Vaccine Should Children Get?

Many people don’t realize how serious influenza (flu) illness can be, even for previously healthy kids and teens. Children also play a role in spreading the flu in their homes and communities. As a parent, the best thing you can do to protect your children and others from the flu is to get them vaccinated.
Influenza viruses change yearly. All children age 6 months and older need a flu shot every year.

All children age 6 months and older should get their influenza vaccine when the shots become available, especially children who will need two shots this season. That way they will be protected before flu starts circulating in your community. It takes about two weeks after the shot to build immunity.

Which flu vaccines are available?

There are two types of influenza vaccines available. The first is what many people call the “flu shot.” The second comes as a nasal spray.

All the vaccines available for children this year protect against four different influenza viruses (two A and two B viruses). During flu season, multiple different flu viruses may circulate. Sometimes the viruses change during the flu season.

Should I get the shot or nasal spray for my child this year?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) want as many children as possible to get a flu vaccine every year. Both types of flu vaccine (flu shot or nasal spray) can be given according to their indications for this flu season. Any licensed influenza vaccine available this year and appropriate for a child’s age and health status should be given, with no preference.

Can kids get a flu vaccine and other vaccinations at the same time?

Yes. Each year, it is possible that flu, COVID-19, and other common viruses will spread at the same time. Last influenza season was longer than most. Sometimes, the vaccine is not an exact match with the strains in the community. But the vaccine still can protect against serious illness. Talk with your pediatrician about your child getting the flu vaccine along with other recommended immunizations. This includes getting a COVID-19 vaccine or booster, if they are eligible.

If my child tested positive for COVID-19, when should they get a flu vaccine?

Children with COVID-19 should get a flu vaccine after they have recovered from their COVID-19 illness. Keep in mind that symptoms such as a stuffy and runny nose can make it hard to give the nasal spray vaccine.

What about allergies to flu vaccines?

A child who had an allergic reaction after a flu vaccine in the past should be seen by an allergist. The allergist can help parents decide if their child should receive their annual flu vaccination. A child with a known history of egg allergy can receive the flu vaccine.

Where should I go for my child’s flu shot?

Many pediatricians offer flu shot clinics, including curbside and drive-through clinics. The pediatrician’s office has your child’s health information. That makes it easy to keep track of the flu shot in your child’s health record.

If they get a flu shot somewhere else, remember to share this information with the pediatrician so the vaccination is included in your child’s health record.

Don’t let the flu stop you and your family!

Most people who get the flu are sick for at least a week. But some people get much sicker. Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent influenza and the serious complications that can result from it—especially for those with high-risk conditions like asthma. For example, flu can lead to pneumonia. The flu vaccine keeps people out of the hospital—it stops serious illness and deaths from influenza.

Influenza causes thousands of deaths in the United States every year. About 37 to 199 children and teens die each year of flu—80% of those children were not fully vaccinated. Even children who are otherwise healthy and have no other medical conditions can be hospitalized with flu and develop life-threatening complications.

There’s no need to wait, even if your child received the previous year’s flu vaccine in March or April. Children 6 months to 8 years of age should receive two doses if this is the first time they are being vaccinated against influenza, or if they have only received one dose of flu vaccine ever before July 1. The doses are given four weeks apart.

We have a vaccine for flu, unlike many other respiratory viruses that make kids sick. Let’s protect our children from flu when we can.


The Flu: What Parents Need to Know

Flu—short for influenza—is an illness caused by a respiratory virus. The flu can spread rapidly through communities, as the virus is passed person to person.

When someone with the flu coughs or sneezes, the influenza virus gets into the air, and people nearby, including children, can inhale it through the nose or mouth.

The virus also can be spread when people touch a contaminated hard surface, such as a door handle, and then put their hands or fingers in their nose or mouth, or rub their eyes.

When is flu season?

The flu season usually starts in the fall and can last until the end of spring. Ideally, children should get an annual flu shot as soon as it is available, and no later than the end of October. But if your child did not get vaccinated yet, they still should at the earliest opportunity.

When there is an outbreak or epidemic, usually during the winter months, the illness tends to be most frequent in preschool or school-aged children. Flu viruses are known to spread quickly among college students and teens, too.

In the first few days of illness, the virus is easily transmitted to other children, parents and caregivers.

It is important for anyone age 6 months old and older to get the flu vaccine each year. Everyone age 6 months and older should also get COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses when they are eligible. The COVID vaccine and flu vaccine can safely be given at the same time or at any time one after the other.

Flu symptoms include:

  • A sudden fever (usually above 100.4°F or 38°C)
  • Chills
  • Headache, body aches, and being a lot more tired than usual
  • Sore throat
  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Stuffy, runny nose
  • Some children may throw up (vomit) and have loose stools (diarrhea).

After the first few days of these symptoms, a sore throat, stuffy nose, and continuing cough become most evident. The flu can last a week or even longer. A child with a common cold usually has only a low-grade fever, a runny nose, and only a small amount of coughing. Children with the flu—or adults, for that matter—usually feel much sicker, achier, and more miserable than those with just a cold.

Kids with chronic health conditions at greater risk

Any child can develop severe, life-threatening influenza. Children who are at especially high risk for developing complications from the flu are those with an underlying chronic medical condition, such as lung, heart, or kidney disease, an immune system condition, cancer, diabetes, some blood diseases, or conditions of the muscular or central nervous system.

These children may have more severe disease or complications. It is important for them to be vaccinated and, when possible, avoid other children with the flu or flu-like symptoms. Their pediatrician may suggest other precautions that should be taken.

If your child has any of these chronic health conditions and flu-like symptoms along with any difficulty breathing, seek medical attention right away. There can be serious complications, even death, from the flu, but thanks to the flu vaccine these are less common.

Flu treatment

Children may benefit from extra rest and drinking lots of fluids when they get the flu.

If your child is uncomfortable because of a fever, acetaminophen or ibuprofen in doses recommended by your pediatrician for his age and weight will help him feel better. Ibuprofen is approved for use in children age 6 months and older; however, it should never be given to children who are dehydrated or who are vomiting continuously.

It is extremely important never to give aspirin to a child who has the flu or is suspected of having the flu. Aspirin during bouts of influenza is associated with an increased risk of developing Reye syndrome.

Antiviral medicine for the flu: available by prescription

Your pediatrician can help decide whether or not to treat the flu with an antiviral medicine. Antiviral medicine works best if started within the first one to two days of showing signs of the flu. However, in some children with increased risk for influenza complications, treatment could be started later.

Call your pediatrician within 24 hours of the first flu symptom to ask about antiviral medications if your child:

  • Has an underlying health problem like asthma or other chronic lung disease, a heart condition, diabetes, sickle cell disease, a weakened immune system, a neuromuscular condition such as cerebral palsy, or other medical conditions.
  • Is younger than 5 years old, especially if less than 2 years old.
  • Has symptoms that are not improving.
  • Is in contact with others who are at risk for complications of the flu.

How long does the flu last?

Healthy people, especially children, get over the flu in about a week, without any lingering problems. Talk with your child’s doctor if you suspect a complication like ear pain, pressure in your child’s face and head, or a cough and fever that will not go away.

When flu becomes an emergency

If your child has the flu and develops any of these symptoms, contact your pediatrician or seek immediate medical care.

  • Trouble breathing or unusually rapid breathing
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Ribs looking like they pull in with each breath
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle pain so severe that your child refuses to walk
  • Dehydration (no peeing for 8 hours, dry mouth, and no tears when crying)
  • While awake, your child is not alert or interacting with you
  • Seizures
  • Fever above 104°F
  • In children less than 12 weeks, any fever
  • Fever or cough that seem to improve but then return or worsen
  • Worsening chronic medical conditions, such as asthma

How to prevent the flu

Everyone needs the flu vaccine each year to update their protection and reduce te risk of serious complications. It is the best way to prevent getting the flu. Safe and effective vaccines are made each year.

The flu vaccine is especially important for:

  • Children, including infants born preterm, who are 6 months to 5 years of age,
  • Children of any age with chronic medical conditions that increase the risk of complications from the flu
  • All contacts and care providers of children with high risk conditions and children under 5 years old
  • People who are pregnant, are considering pregnancy, have recently delivered, or are breastfeeding during the flu season. This is to protect the parent and the baby, which is important since newborns and infants under 6 months old are not able to receive their own vaccination.
  • All health care workers

Flu vaccine

Both the inactivated (killed) vaccine, also called the “flu shot,” given by injection in the muscle, and the live-attenuated nasal spray vaccine, can be used for influenza vaccination this season. There is no preference for a product or formulation. Any of these vaccines should be given as available in your area.

The vaccine teaches your body’s immune system to protect you from the virus. This takes about two weeks after getting vaccinated. Getting vaccinated before the flu starts spreading around will keep your family healthy so they can continue to enjoy the activities that help them thrive.

Flu vaccine side effects

The flu vaccine has few side effects. The most common side effects from the flu shot are fever and redness, soreness or swelling at the injection site. The most common side effects from the nasal spray vaccine are runny nose, congestion and sore throat.

Children with egg allergies can receive the flu vaccine. Children with a previous allergic reaction after a dose of flu vaccine should be seen by an allergist. The allergist can help parents decide if their child should receive an annual flu vaccination.


Take Simple Steps to Avoid Dreaded Spread of Flu in Daycare


We have learned a lot about how to help kids in daycare avoid illness from COVID-19.

Still, many in child care are too young to get COVID vaccines. Children younger than 2 years are too young to wear a mask.

Many contagious illnesses like the flu, COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and colds are going around. What else can be done to keep children healthy?

Get a flu shot

For kids in daycare settings, staying up to date on vaccines like flu vaccinations is key. Flu shots will not prevent COVID, the cold, or RSV. But like these illnesses, the flu can make babies and young children very sick.

Nearly every flu season, very young children are hit the hardest by the flu. In 2019-2020, a record-breaking 199 children died from the flu. Most who died that year had not received flu vaccinations.

Flu vaccines protect babies and young kids. That way, it is much less likely they will need hospital care or die from flu complications. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends flu vaccines for babies and children 6 months of age and older. Your child can catch up on all immunizations at a well-child visit.

And remember, adults need annual flu shots, too. Child care staff may have received their COVID vaccines. But COVID shots do not protect us from the flu.

It’s not too late!

The timing of flu season can change each year. Flu season usually starts in October, peaks in February and may last into May.

Children eligible for a flu shot and COVID shot can get both at the same visit. The AAP recommends COVID-19 vaccines for everyone 5 years old and older. Adults and kids 12 years and older should get a COVID booster, too, when it is time.

Flu shots protect the people around us.

What happens at daycare when everyone is up to date on vaccinations?

  • Kids can stay in school and other activities.
  • Adults will not have to miss work or obligations.
  • We protect children who are too young to get vaccinated.
  • We keep those around us safe—people at high risk of serious illness, like cancer patients and our grandparents. Older people (65 years and older) need flu shots, too. They are at higher risk of getting very sick from the flu.

Being up to date on vaccines protects infants and young kids in child care who are too young to get vaccinated.

Serious flu illness and death can be (mostly) avoided.

We all know that little kids like to put everything in their mouths! Young children’s immune systems are not fully developed. Flu shots help protect young kids when they are exposed to influenza virus in child care.

So why do some children with the flu end up in the hospital? The flu can make their body very weak—much more than a common cold. Children may need hospital care if their body becomes too weak from the flu. Sometimes, children develop complications from being sick, like pneumonia (when the infection spreads to the lungs).

There is no cure for the flu. Antiviral medicine can shorten the time that a person is sick. But they do not replace the need to get a flu shot.


As we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is not one way to prevent illnesses at child care. But layers of protection will keep us safe. This includes:

  • teaching young children how to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer,
  • wearing a well-fitting mask if 2 years or older,
  • making sure that eligible children and staff are vaccinated
  • keeping everyone informed about child care sick-child policies so they know when a sick child should stay home, and
  • call your doctor if you have any questions.

When we all do our part, it keeps us healthy. It keeps our friends healthy—and it protects those at highest risk, too.


Preventing the Flu: Resources for Parents and Child Care Providers

Parents and child care providers can help prevent and slow the spread of the flu. The flu (influenza) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. Flu infections are highly contagious. They spread easily when children are in a group with other children such as in a child care center or family child care home.

Flu is more dangerous than the common cold for children and can lead to serious health conditions like pneumonia or bacterial infections. Each year many children are hospitalized and some die from the flu.

The following resources provide information on preventing the flu. Materials and tools for child care facilities are also included.

Flu Vaccine Information

The flu vaccine is the best way to protect against getting the flu. All people 6 months and older need a flu vaccine each year. Babies cannot get vaccinated until they are 6 months old. It is critical that people who live with or care for children, especially newborns and infants younger than 6 months, get vaccinated. Vaccinating adults who are around an infant to prevent illnesses is often referred to as “cocooning.”

  • Which Flu Vaccine Should My Children Get This Year?
  • 10 Simple Steps to Prevent Infections During Pregnancy

Protecting Children with Chronic Health Conditions

Children and adolescents with a chronic health condition, such asthma, heart disease, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system are at high risk for flu complications.

  • Flu: A Guide for Parents of Children and Adolescents with Chronic Health Conditions

Fighting Germs

A few minutes killing germs can go a long way toward keeping you and those around you healthy. As adults, we know to wash our hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing, sneezing, or wiping noses. When you cough or sneeze, cough into your sleeve or arm or into a tissue. Be sure to dispose of the tissue and wash your hands. Parents and child care providers can do their part to kill germs and also teach young children how and when to wash their hands.

  • Hand Washing: A Powerful Antidote to Illness
  • Germ Prevention Strategies
  • Cleaners, Sanitizers & Disinfectants

Preventing the Spread of Illness in Daycare

Young children who have just entered child care are more vulnerable to infectious diseases. This is because it may be the first time they have been exposed to certain germs. In addition, they may be too young to have received enough doses of recommended vaccines to have developed immunity.

There are steps that caregivers and teachers can take to prevent the spread of infection in child care.

  • Preventing the Spread of Illness in Child Care or School

How Sick is Too Sick?

When children are healthy, they can go to child care or school, and parents can go to work. Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to make sure everyone can continue to participate in these important activities. However, when a child feels too sick to participate in activities, or requires care beyond what the caregivers can provide without compromising their ability to care for other children, that child will need to stay home.

  • When to Keep Your Child Home from Child Care
  • Caring for Your Child’s Cold or Flu

Live, Intranasal Influenza Vaccine: What You Need to Know

​Why get vaccinated?

Influenza vaccine can prevent influenza (flu).

Flu is a contagious disease that spreads around the United States every year, usually between October and May. Anyone can get the flu, but it is more dangerous for some people. Infants and young children, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions or a weakened immune system are at greatest risk of flu complications.

Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections are examples of flu-related complications. If you have a medical condition, such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes, flu can make it worse.

Flu can cause fever and chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache, and runny or stuffy nose. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

Each year thousands of people in the United States die from flu, and many more are hospitalized. Flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related visits to the doctor each year.

Live, attenuated influenza vaccine

CDC recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated every flu season. Children 6 months through 8 years of age may need 2 doses during a single flu season. Everyone else needs only 1 dose each flu season.

Live, attenuated influenza vaccine (called LAIV) is a nasal spray vaccine that may be given to non-pregnant people 2 through 49 years of age.

It takes about 2 weeks for protection to develop after vaccination.

There are many flu viruses, and they are always changing. Each year a new flu vaccine is made to protect against three or four viruses that are likely to cause disease in the upcoming flu season. Even when the vaccine doesn’t exactly match these viruses, it may still provide some protection.

Influenza vaccine does not cause flu.

Influenza vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.

Talk with your health care provider

Tell your vaccine provider if the person getting the vaccine:

  • Is younger than 2 years or older than 49 years of age.
  • Is pregnant.
  • Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of influenza vaccine, or has any severe, life-threatening allergies.
  • Is a child or adolescent 2 through 17 years of age who is receiving aspirin or aspirin-containing products.
  • Has a weakened immune system.
  • Is a child 2 through 4 years old who has asthma or a history of wheezing in the past 12 months.
  • Has taken influenza antiviral medication in the previous 48 hours.
  • Cares for severely immunocompromised persons who require a protected environment.
  • Is 5 years or older and has asthma.
  • Has other underlying medical conditions that can put people at higher risk of serious flu complications (such as lung disease, heart disease, kidney disease, kidney or liver disorders, neurologic or neuromuscular or metabolic disorders).
  • Does not have a spl​een, or has a non-functioning spleen.
  • ​​Has a cerebrospinal fluid leak (a leak of the fluid that surrounds the brain to the nose, throat, ear or some other location in the head).
  • Has a cochlear implant.
  • Has had Guillain-Barré Syndrome within 6 weeks after a previous dose of influenza vaccine.

In some cases, your health care provider may decide to postpone influenza vaccination to a future visit.

For some patients, a different type of influenza vaccine (inactivated or recombinant influenza vaccine) might be more appropriate than live, attenuated influenza vaccine.

People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting influenza vaccine.

Your health care provider can give you more information.

Risks of a vaccine reaction

  • Runny nose or nasal congestion, wheezing and headache can happen after LAIV.
  • Vomiting, muscle aches, fever, sore throat and cough are other possible side effects.

If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after vaccination and are mild and short-lived.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

What if there is a serious problem?

An allergic reaction could occur after the vaccinated person leaves the clinic. If you see signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness), call 9-1-1 and get the person to the nearest hospital.

For other signs that concern you, call your health care provider.

Adverse reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your health care provider will usually file this report, or you can do it yourself. Visit the VAERS website or call 1-800-822-7967VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff do not give medical advice.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines. Visit the VICP website or call 1-800-338-2382 to learn about the program and about filing a claim. There is a time limit to file a claim for compensation.


Caring for Your Child’s Cold or Flu

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics may be used to fight bacterial infections, but they have no effect on viruses, like the flu​.

The best you can do is to make your child comfortable. Make sure your child gets extra rest and drinks water or other liquids.

Your pediatrician may want to see your child or ask you to watch them closely. Be sure to report back if things do not get better each day or are not all better after one week.

How to get rid of a stuffy nose:

Nasal spray

  • Use salt water (saline) nose drops. Give 1 to 2 drops in each opening of the nose (nostril) or spray ​1 to 2 sprays in each nostril. For infants, use a rubber suction bulb to suck out the extra drops or spray.
    Tip: When using the suction bulb, remember that before you put the bulb on your baby’s nose, first squeeze the bulb part of the syringe. Then, gently stick the rubber tip into one nostril, and then slowly let go of the bulb.This slight amount of suction will pull the clogged mucus out of the nose and should help your baby breathe and suck at the same time once again. You’ll find that this works best when your baby is under 6 months of age. As your baby gets older, he or she will fight the bulb, making it difficult to suck out the mucus, but the saline drops will still help.


  • Put a cool-mist humidifier (also called a vaporizer) in your child’s room. This can help the liquid that’s making their nose stuffy thinner, so it is easier for your child to breathe. Put it close to your child (but safely out of your child’s reach), because the humidifier makes the area closest to it the moistest. Be sure to carefully clean and dry the humidifier each day to stop bacteria or mold from growing; bacteria and mold can make your child sick.
    Hot-water vaporizers should not be used, because the hot water or steam can burn your child.

What to do to for your child’s cough:


  • Do not give hon​ey to babies under one year—it is not safe.
  • For children ages 1 to 5 years: Try half a teaspoon of honey.
  • For children ages 6 to 11: Try one teaspoon of honey.
  • For children 12 or older: Try two teaspoons of honey.
  • If honey is given at bedtime, make sure your child’s teeth are brushed afterward.

Cough drops or lozenges

  • Consider cough drops or lozenges for children 4 and older. Do not give cough drops or lozenges to a child younger than 4 years because he could choke on them. Also, do not give your child more cough drops than what the instructions on the package say.

Mentholated rubs

  • For children ages 2 years and older: Rub a thick layer on top of the skin on the chest and the front of the neck (throat area).
  • The body’s warmth helps the medication go into the air slowly over time. The child breathes in this air, which helps to soothe a cough, so the child can sleep.
  • After using the medicine, put the medication container away and out of reach of children.
  • Only use mentholated rubs on top of the skin.

To help treat your child’s fever

Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen

  • If your child has a fever and is very uncomfortable, give her a medication with just one ingredient―either acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Always call your pediatrician before giving medicine to a child under 2 years of age and call right away if your child is under three months of age and has a fever.
  • For children over the age of 2 years, check the label to see how much medicine to give. If you know your child’s weight, use that. If you do not know your child’s weight, go by age for the dose amount.
  • Ibuprofen can be used in children 6 months of age and older; however, it should never be given to children who are having a lot of trouble drinking enough liquids (children who are dehydrated) or who are throwing up a lot.
  • Do not give your child aspirin, which has been linked with Reye syndrome, a rare but very serious illness that affects the liver and the brain.

Prevention & treatment

Flu vaccine

  • Children 6 months or older should get a flu vaccine each year. Children who are older than 6 months but younger than 2 years should get a flu shot.
  • Children younger than 6 months are too young to get a flu vaccines. In order to protect them, make sure that the people around them get a flu vaccine.

Over-the-counter cough & cold medicines

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines should not be given to infants and children under 4 years of age because of the risk of dangerous side effects. Several studies show that cold and cough products that are taken by mouth don’t work in children younger than 6 years and can have potentially serious side effects.
  • Many cold medicines already have acetaminophen (Tylenol or generic) in them. If you give one of these medicines along with acetaminophen or (Tylenol or generic), your child will get a double dose.

If antibiotics are prescribed

  • Make sure children take them exactly as the instructions say, even if they feel better. If antibiotic treatment stops too soon, the infection may get worse or spread in the body. Call the doctor if your child is not getting better with treatment.
  • If the antibiotic is a liquid, ask your child’s doctor for the right dosage in milliliters (mL) for your child’s age and size. Always measure each dose using a tool (syringe, cup, or spoon) that is marked in milliliters.

Avian Flu: Facts for Families

Birds in the United States can be affected by avian flu (also called bird flu or avian influenza). But can it affect your family?

Here’s what parents should know.

What causes bird flu?

Bird flu is caused by avian influenza type A viruses, including the avian flu type A(H5N1) that is the most recent strain circulating in our country. The virus is known to infect birds around the world.

Sometimes, wild birds spread the virus and cause outbreaks on poultry farms. In January 2022, the virus was found in wild birds in our country for the first time since 2016. Several states have reported bird flu in poultry flocks and wild birds.

Is bird flu common in birds?

Yes. Bird flu is common in wild birds—especially wild water fowl like ducks and geese. It is spread easily by infected birds that carry the virus in their saliva, nasal secretions and droppings (feces).

When sick birds fly overhead, the virus can spread through their droppings to farms and backyard pens. If your family keeps birds as backyard pets or on small hobby farms, they are also at risk.

Can people get bird flu?

In very rare cases, bird flu can spread to other animals—and to humans. In 2022, the avian flu A(H5) was detected in one person in the United States. That person worked closely with birds, had very mild symptoms and recovered. Health experts will continue to watch for any changes in how the virus spreads.

In people, signs and symptoms of bird flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, pneumonia, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, acute respiratory distress, respiratory failure, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, sometimes neurologic changes (altered mental status, seizures).

Will the flu vaccine protect me from bird flu?

Seasonal flu vaccination will not prevent infection with bird flu viruses. The annual influenza vaccine protects against four strains that are most widely circulating in humans. The risk of kids—or adults—getting seasonal influenza is much greater, which is why annual influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone age 6 months and older.

The risk of kids and adults getting bird flu is very rare. And, getting an annual flu shot will reduce the risk of getting sick with human and bird flu viruses at the same time.

Can bird flu spread through chicken or eggs?

No. You cannot get bird flu from eating fully cooked domestic or wild poultry products like chicken, turkey or duck.

Public health experts keep a close watch for bird flu outbreaks on poultry farms to make sure our food supply is safe. People who work in the poultry industry also follow safety steps to protect themselves and others in case they have close contact with sick birds.

Are eggs safe to eat?

Cooking eggs will kill any virus or bacteria, so they are safe to eat. The germs that can make us sick are found on the egg shell. Salmonella, Campylobacter and other germs get on the egg shell from bird poop. Poultry often carry these germs. (That’s why health experts advise us to avoid eating raw eggs and avoid licking the bowl when we make cake or cookie batter!)

Eggs from the grocery store are washed before they are put into their cartons. If your family has backyard poultry, be sure to wash the eggs to remove germs from their shells. Other healthy steps include keeping a clean coop, collecting eggs often and throwing away cracked eggs you collect.


In general, birds carry a lot of diseases besides bird flu. The best way to avoid getting sick is to make sure that children wash their hands with soap and water after being around any bird or bird droppings. Supervise children around birds and remind them not to rub their eyes or touch their nose or mouth while handling birds or bird feces. Tell your child not to touch, handle or move a sick or dead bird. They should let an adult know, so that it can be reported.


Ask the Pediatrician: Flu Roundup


Where can parents find answers about the flu?


Pediatricians from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have answers to your most pressing questions about influenza. Learn how the flu shot works for kids, when flu season begins, how to avoid the flu and where to get flu shots for your family.