#FluVaxJax: How to best protect every member of your family

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We could see an uptick in flu cases in the weeks ahead, and doctors say now is a great time for those 6 months and older to get vaccinated.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, last year’s flu season began earlier than typically expected in many states, and the majority of children were not protected by the vaccine. We did see a peak in the flu between late October and late December in 2022.

Dr. Sunil Joshi, Jacksonville’s Chief Health Officer, reminds people it does take 10 to 14 days after you receive the flu vaccination to increase your immunity. So, if you get it now, you’ll be protected for six months -- which will get people through the upcoming flu season.

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If you have health insurance, your flu shot is covered 100%. If you don’t have health insurance, you can request a voucher from the #FluVaxJax campaign to get a free shot.

The CDC says people at higher risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant people, people with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, and people 65 years and older.

Flu vaccinations for children

According to the Mayo Clinic, depending on your child’s age and health, you might be able to choose between the flu shot and the nasal spray flu vaccine.

Flu shot: Flu shots can be given to children 6 months and older. Side effects might include soreness, redness and swelling where the shot was given. A fever, muscle aches, headache, nausea and tiredness also can occur.

Nasal spray: The nasal spray flu vaccine can be given to healthy children 2 years and older. Side effects of the nasal spray in children might include a runny nose, wheezing, headache, vomiting, muscle aches, a slight fever and a sore throat.

As for the number of doses needed, it could be one or two.

If your child is younger than age 9 and is getting the flu vaccine for the first time, your child may need two doses given at least four weeks apart. If your child is age 9 or older, one dose may be enough.

Flu vaccinations for those 65 and older

The CDC says there are three specific flu vaccines preferably recommended for people 65 years and older over other flu vaccines: Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent, Flublok Quadrivalent, or Fluad Quadrivalent. Studies show, for this age group, these vaccines are potentially more effective than standard dose unadjuvanted flu vaccines.

Flu vaccinations during pregnancy

According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnant women are more likely to develop flu complications, especially in the second and third trimesters. And flu infection also increases the risks of fetal birth defects – so it’s important to get a flu vaccine.

The CDC recommends those who are pregnant get the flu shot and not the nasal spray flu vaccine.