A new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children get the 2018 flu shot as soon as it becomes available this season, preferably before the end of October.

By Maressa Brown

Across the country, kids are flooding back into classrooms, kicking off a new school year and heading into the fall. That means that the 2018-2019 flu season is right around the corner, too, and pediatricians are imploring parents to take swift, preemptive action. The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement this week noting that children, aged 6 months and older, should get the 2018 flu shot as soon as it becomes available this season, preferably before the end of October.

"The flu virus is common—and unpredictable. It can cause serious complications even in healthy children," said Dr. Flor Munoz of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases in the statement. "Being immunized reduces the risk of a child being hospitalized due to flu."

The group appears to be taking strong action ahead of the season in part because the 2017-2018 flu season was one of the most severe on record, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC noted that last year, thousands of U.S. children were hospitalized and 179 kids died of flu-related causes. About 80 percent of the children who died had not had a flu shot.

Although the nasal spray vaccine is available again, the AAP advises parents to err toward the injection for their L.O.s if possible, as it has provided the most consistent protection against all strains of the flu virus in recent years. Still, the nasal spray is a good back-up plan for a child who refuses an injection or if a doctor's office runs out of flu shots.

Parents are encouraged to visit their pediatrician for the shot, but drugstore clinics may also be an option, depending on your child's age. CVS' Minute Clinic, for example, offers flu shots for patients 18 months and older in most states, 24 months and older in KY, 5 years and older in CT.

For more info on flu vaccination and kids, head over to the CDC's site.

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