Protect Your Child this Flu Season: Get a Flu Shot!Posted on by
As fall approaches, cold weather isn’t the only thing you and your family need to prepare for. Flu season is on its way, and it will be here before you know it. Now is the time to make sure that you and your family are protected from flu by getting your flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible.
The Best Way to Protect Your Family
Even healthy children can get the flu. Did you know that children, especially school-aged children or children in day care, are more likely to get sick from flu? Your child is likely to be exposed to flu in a classroom or daycare setting, and millions of children get sick with flu every season. It’s important to make sure that your child is protected this flu season, and the first and most important step in protecting you and your family from flu is by getting everyone an annual flu vaccine.
Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine is Not Recommended This Season
Flu shots can sometimes be difficult, scary, and uncomfortable for kids (and parents). For several years, some parents have opted to get their children the nasal spray flu vaccine, commonly known as FluMist®, to avoid another shot for their kids. Doctors and scientists also appreciated having the nasal spray flu vaccine as an option that might help encourage needle-averse people to get vaccinated. Studies done soon after the nasal spray flu vaccine was approved showed it was performing as well as (and sometimes better than) flu shots.
Unfortunately, recently there have been problems with how well that vaccine has worked. The reason for this is not known, but experts are looking into the situation with the hopes that nasal spray flu vaccine might again be an option for kids and parents. In the meantime, CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend flu shots this flu season, not the nasal spray flu vaccine. Flu shots work and can keep your child from getting sick!
As you are planning to get your family vaccinated this fall, remember that some children 6 months through 8 years of age require two doses of flu vaccine. If your child is 6 months through 8 years and is getting vaccinated for the first time, or has only previously gotten one dose of vaccine, then they should get two doses of vaccine this season. The two doses need to be given at least four weeks apart. For children who will need two doses of flu vaccine, the first dose should be given as early in the season as possible to allow time for the second vaccine to kick in before flu starts to spread in your community.
For other children, it is good practice to get them vaccinated by the end of October; however, getting vaccinated later can still be protective as long as flu viruses are circulating. Ask your child’s doctor or other health care professional if your child needs two doses of flu vaccine.
Visit Children, the Flu, and the Flu Vaccine for more flu and flu vaccine information specific to children.
Flu Can Be Dangerous for Some Children
The flu may be more serious than the common cold for children. Flu symptoms can be severe and flu illness can lead to serious complications that require hospitalization.
Some children are at especially high risk of serious flu-related complications:
- Children younger than 6 months old are too young to be vaccinated. The best way to protect them is to make sure you and others around them are vaccinated.
- Children aged 6 months up to their 5th birthday, even those that are healthy, are at risk simply because of their age.
- In some studies, American Indians and Alaskan Natives are more likely to have severe flu illness that may result in hospitalization or death.
- Children aged 6 months through 18 years with certain chronic health problems, such as asthma, diabetes, or neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions.
It’s important to make sure young children and children with certain chronic health problems are vaccinated against flu, as well as any family members and caregivers in contact with your family.
Vaccinate the Whole Family
CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine. You and your family should be vaccinated every year for the best protection against flu. Many children get sick from flu every flu season, and some of those illnesses result in death. Every year in the United States, an average of 20,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized due to flu complications. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illness, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations for you and your family.
Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies, and college health centers, by many employers, and even some schools. You may not have to see your doctor to get your child a flu shot! There are plenty of locations available that provide vaccinations. The Vaccine Locator is a useful tool for finding areas in your community offering flu vaccine.
More information for parents is available at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/parents/index.htm.