Fewer kids got flu shots last winter: What this means for flu season

Pediatricians across the county have noticed nearly half of children did not get a flu shot last year.

Denise Dador Image
Wednesday, September 7, 2022
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The American Academy of Pediatrics reports vaccinations for kids are backsliding across the board, but at the top of the priority list this fall are flu shots.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The American Academy of Pediatrics reports vaccinations for kids are backsliding across the board, but at the top of the priority list this fall are flu shots.

This comes as federal authorities prepare to add another shot to your to-do list and experts urge parents to take action.

Pediatricians across the county have noticed nearly half of children did not get a flu shot last year.

"We didn't have the same high flu vaccination rates so there's going to be a population of folks who just are more vulnerable this year that don't have that pre-existing immunity," said Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. David Bronstein with Kaiser Permanente Antelope Valley.

Plus, fewer kids are wearing masks and staying apart.

Bronstein said Australia's severe flu season doesn't bode well for the U.S. Historically, it's taken a disproportionate toll on Black, Latino and Native Americans.

"We all need to do a better job to make sure that we are vaccinating the folks who do have the highest risk of bad outcomes," he said.

Last winter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 55% of children received flu shots and vaccine coverage was 8% lower for Black children compared to white children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging all families to get their flu shots by the end of October, and health authorities plan to add another annual shot to the schedule with the unveiling of the new COVID-19 bivalent booster.

"They protect us against BA.4 and BA.5 in addition to the original COVID strain. So it's great that we finally have a vaccine to protect us against the virus that's currently circulating," Bronstein said.

The new boosters are for those 12 and older. Doctors say you can get the two shots together.

"They're both going to work just as well. They're not going to cause increased side effects. If you get them both at the same time. It's safe and effective to do that," Bronstein said.

If you've recently received a COVID shot or had an infection, you can wait two to three months to get the new booster.

As for the flu vaccine, the AAP recommends both the injectable version and the nasal spray for kids.