Health officials in California are concerned about this year’s flu season as vaccinations among children up to 18 years of age have plummeted by more than 40% since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, now more than ever, parents should consult their child’s pediatrician to ensure their child is vaccinated and protected.
Danton Kono, MD, a pediatrician with Dignity Health Mercy Medical Group in Citrus Heights, shared some valuable information on vaccines and why a flu shot is especially important this year.
General vaccine guidelines
Pediatricians follow a vaccination schedule that was developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The current vaccination schedule was created after years of research to find the best regimen to maximally enhance a child's immune system. This schedule is designed to ensure that your child receives the right protection at their age. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles and polio. Those same germs exist today, but because most children receive vaccines, occurrences of these diseases are rare.
Why it’s important to get a flu vaccine
While many vaccines are only needed once in your adolescence, the CDC recommends a yearly seasonal influenza (flu) vaccine for anyone older than six months, including pregnant women. Though people who are generally healthy may think a flu shot is unnecessary, it is important to remember a healthy adult who gets the flu could also infect someone more vulnerable. High-risk populations and those with chronic illnesses have an increased risk of developing serious complications from the flu, such as pneumonia.
The CDC recommends getting your flu shot between late September and late October as it takes about two weeks for the immunity to form in your body. However, it is never too late to get the flu shot. Children who need two doses of the vaccine to be protected should start the process earlier because the doses need to be four weeks apart.
Flu vaccines and COVID-19
Studies show that up to 20% of people who have COVID-19 also have the flu and other respiratory viruses. The flu is one of the top 10 leading causes of death each year in the U.S. and getting a flu shot has never been more important. If we can reduce the spread of the flu while we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we can help ensure our healthcare system is able to care for patients in need. Note that if you have been exposed to, or are recovering from COVID-19, you should not get the flu vaccine until your quarantine period is over.
Don’t let the pandemic delay you from getting the continued care you need. Our clinics are taking several precautions to help ensure patient safety and many offer pediatric services that can help parents address any questions or concerns they might have about their child’s vaccinations. To find a local provider near you, visit
Dr. Danton Kono is a pediatrician with Mercy Medical Group in Citrus Heights, CA.