Your Flu Vaccine Questions Answered

Although kids may not like them, flu shots are still recommended over the nasal spray, due to the historically poor performance of the intranasal influenza vaccine.iStockPhoto

Grab your pumpkin spice latte; fall is officially here. The leaves are starting to change. Football season has begun. Baseball season is … still going. And flu shots have arrived!

As influenza season begins its march across the U.S., now is the time to protect yourself and your family with the flu shot. Since the last flu season was particularly onerous, most of my families are ready and waiting for protection against flu. The shot remains one of the best defenses against the deadly consequences of the infection, and I recommend it to all people over the age of 6 months.


As the first shipments of the available vaccine have arrived in our office, so have a few common questions about this year’s vaccine options. Here are the answers:

1. What’s the deal with the egg-free vaccine?

It has been well-established that people with egg allergies can get any available flu shot without restriction. Egg allergy is not a contraindication for influenza vaccine. In the distant past, however, people with egg allergies were advised to get a specific version of the vaccine that did not use chicken eggs as part of the manufacturing process. Interestingly, new research suggests the antibody protection against flu after receiving the egg-free vaccine is up to 10 times stronger than the traditionally manufactured vaccine. The egg-free vaccine, however, is not readily available in all areas, often more expensive and not available to children under the age of 4.

Bottom line: It will be fascinating to follow this research over time. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend one vaccine over the other. I wouldn’t delay vaccinating my family if the traditional vaccine is readily available.

2. My kids hate shots, and I heard the nasal spray is back. Can I get that one?

Intranasal influenza vaccine is available for this flu season as a last resort for vaccination. To be clear, the nasal version is not preferred. The American Academy of Pediatrics still recommends the injectable flu vaccine for all kids given the historically poor performance of the nasal vaccine. The currently available nasal vaccine is a new formulation, and there is some data to show improved effectiveness. However, since this new nasal version hasn’t been widely used, it is impossible to know its efficacy for this coming year.

Bottom line: Until we know more about this new version of the intranasal vaccine, it’s best to choose the injectable vaccine for your family. The flu shot is available for anyone over the age of 6 months.

3. It’s still hot outside. Is now the right time to get the flu shot?

Now is the time to get vaccinated against the flu. It is not too early. Remember that it takes about two weeks after vaccination to get protective levels of antibodies to fight flu. It’s not uncommon to begin to see influenza disease in our communities as early as October. If you wait, you could be too late.

Bottom line: Enjoy these warm early days of fall. And as soon as you find the flu vaccine in your area, get vaccinated. Now is the time.

Do all you can to prepare for the flu season. Eat well. Prioritize sleep. Wash your hands. Cough into your elbow. And get your flu shot.

Dr. Natasha Burgert, Contributor

Natasha Burgert, M.D., FAAP has been contributing to the U.S. News For Parents blog since 2018.…  Read moreNatasha Burgert, M.D., FAAP has been contributing to the U.S. News For Parents blog since 2018. After receiving her medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, she completed her pediatric residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She now calls Kansas City, Missouri, home, working as an innovative general pediatrician, while serving as a national spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of the AAP’s Counsel of Communications and Media. Her work with patients has been featured in outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Parents magazine. She has also been on NBC Nightly News, CBS This Morning and other local news programs. She is a regular contributor to NBC News’ Parent Toolkit and her local NPR affiliate and has been quoted in numerous print and digital articles. She’s also been the keynote speak at various health marketing, vaccine advocacy, and physician-led organizations. If she is not in clinic, you will find her regularly sharing evidence-based child health on, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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