Doctors stress importance of flu shots, some states make them mandatory for young children

Getting the flu vaccination is becoming a prerequisite for day care and preschool in some states including New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.

A local pediatrician says she doesn't see that happening in Florida any time soon but says parents can never be reminded too many times about the importance of their children getting vaccinated.

Dr. Alva Roche-Green at Mayo clinic says once they hit 6 months, they're old enough to get vaccinated. The only time a child should not get vaccinated is if they have certain allergies, breathing problems like asthma or have compromised immune systems.

"You can never force parents to vaccinate kids if they choose not to but I think there are efforts in Florida to make sure that kids are vaccinated here in Duval county," Roche-Green said.

Many schools districts, including Duval County, now provide parents with the option for their student to be vaccinated at school which Roche-Green says is a smart move.

"Sometimes to parents getting the vaccine is that they have to take off school which is the reason a lot of kids don't get it so now with kids getting it at school it increases the number of kids getting the vaccine its not mandatory but parents have to volunteer," she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all healthy people over the age of 6 months receive an annual flu vaccination, either with a shot or a nasal spray. 42% of adults were vaccinated last year. Around 70% of children age 6 months to 4 years were vaccinated, but that rate dropped to 55% for those between 5 years and 18 years old.

"We want to get kids vaccinated as early as possible. In September and October there are two major kinds we have for kids. The CDC for the first time this year is recommending for ages 2 to 8 the mist, which is better than the vaccine. They have a better immune response to the mist than the flu shot itself plus the kid doesn't have to get an actual shot."

The flu nasal mist is available for ages 2-49 but the pediatrician says the shot typically works better for people over the age of 8. If your child is not able to get the shot, she recommends all family members including parents and siblings get the flu shot so the child is less likely to catch influenza from spending time at home.