Your Child and the Flu Vaccine During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Dr. Nicola Jones-Stokreef, Developmental Pediatrician, talks about the flu and COVID 19 and the importance of getting vaccinated.

Following the news and keeping up to date with health recommendations for your family can be confusing during this time. As we head into flu season, it’s important to understand the differences between COVID-19 vaccinations and the flu shot so that you can make an informed decision to protect the people you love.

COVID-19 has caused severe disease and millions of deaths around the world since early 2020. With the fourth wave of the pandemic caused by the Delta variant, there are many more children who have been hospitalized than in previous waves and some have died. Children who recover may experience chronic symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty concentrating and respiratory symptoms known as “Long COVID”.

Influenza (“the flu”) is also a serious infection and more dangerous to your child than the common cold. Flu prevention is more important than ever to protect people and the health care system due to the existing COVID-19 pandemic. There is also the risk of severe illness from simultaneous infection by both viruses and the best way to protect your child is by getting them, yourself and your family vaccinated.
Severe complications and hospitalization from these viruses are more likely in:

  • Children 6 months to 4 years old
  • Children with neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions like cerebral palsy and epilepsy
  • Children with chronic health problems like diabetes, asthma and compromised immunity
The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, and other health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), recommends universal influenza immunization for individuals over 6 months of age.
Children younger than 9 years old who are receiving seasonal influenza vaccine for the first time require two doses with a minimum of four weeks between doses.

It is safe to receive the flu and COVID-19 vaccinations in different arms for ages 12+, however, it is recommended children aged 5 to 11 years old wait 14 days between the vaccinations. If your child is sick, wait until their symptoms subside before getting them vaccinated. If they have respiratory symptoms such as sore throat and cough with or without fever, they should be tested for COVID-19 and complete the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool. If negative on both, the vaccines can be administered.

Where are vaccines available?
  • Your primary health care provider
  • Pharmacies for individuals over 5 years of age
  • Your local health unit
  • Your child’s school (in some cases)
The best way to protect your child and your family is to get your flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine.

For more information about Influenza vaccines, please read the Ministry of Health’s Health Care Q&A.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, please read the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet.

Article by: Dr. Nicola Jones-Stokreef, Developmental Pediatrician, Children’s Treatment Network