Why should my child get the flu vaccine? Influenza is a common cause of illness, resulting in days of high fever, days to weeks of bad cough, and the potential for dehydration, pneumonia, or other complications leading to hospitalization. It spreads easily among children and is a major cause of missed school days for children and missed work days for their parents. In any given year, about 25% of Cumberland County kids get influenza. A few years ago, with swine flu, it was between 40% and 70%, depending on the age group.
Does my child need to separate vaccination for seasonal influenza and for swine flu? A few years ago, there were two separate flu vaccines: seasonal and swine flu. For the past couple of years, they have been combined into one seasonal flu vaccine.
How is the vaccine administered? Children over six months of age can get the injected flu vaccine. Children over two years of age can get the nasal vaccine. However, some children with certain medical conditions, like active asthma, should get the injectable vaccine rather than the nasal vaccine. Ask us if you’re not sure.
Is the nasal form as good as the injectable form? It may be better! One research study suggested that the nasal form was more protective against influenza disease than the injectable form was.
How many shots does it take? Children over nine years old need one dose of flu vaccine this fall. Some children 6 months to 8 years old may need two doses of vaccine at least four weeks apart. However, kids 2 to 8 years old who have received both a seasonal flu vaccine and a vaccine containing swine flu, may only need one dose. Ask us if you’re not sure.
What about my young infant? Children under six months old cannot be vaccinated, so we encourage you to protect them by having the people around them vaccinated: mom and dad, siblings, babysitters, grandparents, etc.
Does the vaccine interact with any other vaccines? The injected vaccine can be given at any time in relation to any other vaccines. Unless it’s given on the same day, the nasal vaccine (FluMist) should not be given within 1 month of the MMR and Varicella vaccines, which our practice gives at 12 months of age and with the kindergarten vaccines. (It isn’t harmful — it’s just that FluMist isn’t nearly as effective if given within a month of these vaccines.)
Where can I read more about flu vaccination? Read the US Centers for Disease Control’s flu update.
Does my child really need a flu vaccine?
- The most important reason to vaccinate your child against the flu is to prevent the rare cases of death. Each year, in this country, flu causes 50-150 pediatric deaths. The majority of these children are otherwise completely healthy kids just like yours. The flu virus can attack the heart, brain, lungs, and kidneys causing these organs to fail. Additionally, tens of thousands of children are hospitalized with serious complications related to the flu. Most of the children who are hospitalized and who die from the flu in this country are children who have not received the vaccine. The vaccine is nearly 100% effective at preventing death and the serious complications that lead to hospitalization.
- Even an uncomplicated course of influenza will make your child feel miserable and keep them out of school for a week. The flu causes a nasty cough that can linger for 2-3 weeks. Consider how this could affect your child’s schoolwork and athletic participation. Who will stay home with your child when he or she is ill? Can you afford that much time off work?
- If your child catches the flu, he or she can easily spread it to family members and friends. Does your child visit elderly grandparents? How would you feel if that grandparent got the flu from your child? Yes, the elderly do receive flu vaccinations, but because their immune systems don’t respond very well to the vaccine many are left vulnerable to getting infected. Does your child babysit or visit with young children? Children under the age of 5 years are much more likely to develop serious complications from the flu. You wouldn’t want your child infecting a young child might who might get very ill.
- Do you have any special vacation plans between November and April? If one or more of your children comes down with the flu right before your vacation, how would that affect your plans?
Our doctors, staff, and children get the flu vaccines-we wouldn’t recommend anything for you or your family we wouldn’t do for ours!