Many parents are getting used to the idea that kids sometimes need two flu shots.
Second Flu Shots
Since the 2006 flu season, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended that all children who are less than nine years old should get two doses of flu vaccine the first year that they are vaccinated against the flu. The second flu shot, a booster dose, improves the effectiveness of the flu vaccine in these children.
Many children also had to get a second dose of the 2009 H1N1 swine flu vaccine. It was advised that all children who are less than ten years, even if they had previously had two doses of a seasonal flu vaccine, get two doses of the 2009 H1N1 swine flu vaccine to get full protection. This was in addition to their seasonal flu vaccine, which could have meant that some kids needed to get four flu shots if they also needed to get a second seasonal flu shot.
2011 Flu Shots
Although kids won't need to get four flu shots this year, since protection against the H1N1 strain of the flu is again included in this year's seasonal flu vaccine, trying to figure out who needs a second flu shot can still be a little confusing.
In addition to all children who are less than nine years old who are getting a flu vaccine for the first time, kids will need a second flu shot if they are less than nine years old and:
- did not get at least one dose of flu vaccine last year
- your pediatrician can't determine if your child got a flu vaccine last year
Unlike previous years, if your child had only one dose of seasonal flu vaccine last, instead of the recommended two doses, and it was the first year that they were vaccinated against the flu, then they still just need one dose this year. In previous years, they would have to get two doses this year if they didn't get two doses the first year, but since the flu vaccine wasn't changed this year, they can get just one vaccine.
More on Second Flu Shots
- for healthy children who are at least two years old, the FluMist nasal spray flu vaccine can usually substitute for a flu shot
- the booster dose of the flu vaccine should be at least four weeks (28 days) after the first dose
- the booster dose does not have to be same type of flu vaccine as the first dose, so if your child got FluMist for the first dose, the second dose can be FluMist or a flu shot if FluMist isn't available
- if your child is going to need two flu shots for maximum protection, be sure to get him the first shot as early as possible to make sure you complete both doses well before the start of flu season
- for those who need two flu shots, a single dose of flu vaccine may provide some protection against the flu, but it might provide no protection at all
CDC. Prevention and Control of Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2011. MMWR. August 26, 2011 / 60(33);1128-1132
CDC. Questions & Answers. The Nasal-Spray Flu Vaccine. August 3, 2010. Accessed September 2010.