Why Kids With Asthma (Especially) Need a Flu Shot

Update 1/22/21

Kids who suffer from asthma have sensitive airways and are more at risk of complications from the flu. Making sure they get an annual flu shot is a great way to keep them protected from unnecessary attacks.

As a parent of a child with asthma, you know how difficult asthma can be to control. Since your child’s airways are especially sensitive to respiratory viruses like the flu, you need to take every precaution possible to protect her. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do that is by getting a flu shot.

Teen girl asthma patient with doctor

What does a flu infection mean for kids with asthma?

“The flu virus is very contagious and difficult to predict,” said Matthew Hazen, MD, a Pulmonologist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “All children 6 months and older with asthma, as well as people who care for children with asthma, should get a flu shot each year. Children with asthma are at a greater risk for developing complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, which is why it’s so important that these children and their caregivers get a flu shot every year as soon as it becomes available.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 26% of children who had confirmed cases of the flu during the 2018-19 flu season also had asthma. Kids with asthma are simply at a greater risk for hospitalization and death from the flu.

The best defense against the flu is to make sure you and your child get vaccinated with a flu shot. Your child’s asthma doctor can help you determine which type of flu vaccine is best for your child.

Other ways to protect your child against the flu may include:

  • Staying away from anyone who is coughing or sick.
  • Washing hands often.
  • Using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

If your child has asthma and experiences cold- or flu-like symptoms, contact your pediatrician. In the meantime, learn ways that you can safely treat symptoms at home.

What should I know about my child with asthma in facing COVID-19?

While there is still so much we don’t know about COVID-19, it is possible that people with asthma may be at a higher risk of complications.

That’s why this year, more than ever, the best thing you can do to help protect you and your family is to get a flu shot. Since some flu symptoms are similar to symptoms of COVID-19, preventing a flu infection by getting your annual flu shot could reduce confusion or concerns about possible COVID-19 infection in your family. Getting a flu shot doesn’t stop COVID-19, but by reducing the chances of getting the flu, you can keep your family safer at a time of rising respiratory illnesses.

Breathe easy with help from our pediatric team.

When your child can’t breathe, it can be scary. At Children’s, our team of specialists can treat your child and equip you with strategies to manage his symptoms, whether he’s a toddler or a teenager.

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This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.