By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Government health officials say now is the time to protect against the flu.  And they’re making a new flu vaccine recommendation for children.  3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl is here with the advisory.

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11-year-old Cole Eggers is getting his flu vaccine.

“The spray is just a spray they stick up your nose,” said Cole.

“He prefers the nasal spray.  I think it’s less threatening,” said Carol Newell, Cole’s mother.

For the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending Flu Mist nasal spray as the preferred vaccine for healthy kids two to 8 years old.  It’s made with live virus that is weakened.

“It induces a better response in the upper respiratory tract and the data for young children are it’s a better vaccine in that age group,” said Dr. Paul Offit, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“Most children will not have any reactions, but occasionally children with the live vaccine can have signs of a cold for a couple of days,” said  Dr. Sylvain Weinberger, a Pediatrician.

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But if the nasal spray isn’t immediately available, health officials say parents should not wait to get their children vaccinated, give them the shot.

Despite the warnings about how serious and deadly the flu can be, the CDC finds only about half of Americans got vaccinated last year.

“I’m getting my flu vaccination, and I recommend everyone 6 months and over get theirs,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC.

“It keeps you safe.  It keeps other people around you safe,” said Carol.

Last year, more kids got vaccinated against the flu than ever before, an estimated 59 percent.  But the CDC says more kids need to get vaccinated.  There have been more than 400 flu-related deaths in children over the last four years.

About 150 million doses of flu vaccine are expected to be available this season.

CBS 3 Flu Resource Guide-

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CDC Flu Mist Information-

Stephanie Stahl