Do I Really Need a Flu shot??
The flu shots have arrived at your Pediatrician’s office. Now you have to decide if you are going to get an influenza vaccine for your child. There is a great deal of information and misinformation on the internet about vaccines. Here’s some information that will hopefully make your decision easier.
What is Influenza?
No, influenza is not the stomach flu. Influenza is a virus that gives you a high fever (usually above 101), cough, runny nose, sore throat, muscle aches, and chills. The cough can last up to 2 weeks. Secondary infections like pneumonia and ear infections are common. The influenza virus can even cause death. The 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst flu seasons on record. According to the CDC, as of August 18, 2018, 179 children died of influenza-associated deaths and thousands more were hospitalized. 80 percent of the children that died did not receive a flu vaccine.
Who Should Get a Flu Shot?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children 6 months and older get a flu vaccine by the end of October. The AAP recommends injectable flu vaccine as the first choice for children because it has provided the most consistent protection against all strains of the flu in recent years. The nasal spray vaccine (or live vaccine) did not work as well against influenza A/H1N1 strain during the 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 flu seasons. Therefore, it was not recommended for the past 2 flu seasons.
How Many Shots Will My Child Need?
Children 6 months through 8 years need two doses of flu vaccine when it is the first time they are being vaccinated against the flu. The two doses of the vaccine are separated by a month. Children 9 and older require only one dose of flu vaccine. The influenza vaccine is given by injection into the muscle and is inactivated (which means it doesn’t contain live influenza virus and cannot cause the flu). This year’s flu vaccine has either three (trivalent) or four (quadrivalent) virus strains. Patient’s and their parents will have to ask their provider about which vaccine is being offered at their office or pharmacy. The 2018-2019 flu vaccine will cover for 2 additional strains, influenza A H3N2 and influenza B Victoria lineage. Every year the vaccine is revised in order to offer better coverage for the influenza strains that are circulating throughout the United States. The effectiveness of the vaccine varies and is affected by factors such as the child’s age, health status, vaccination history, and the strain of influenza that is circulating in the community.
What is my child has food allergies?
Children with the egg allergy can receive the flu vaccine with no additional precautions than any other child.
Why does my child need the vaccine if they have a medication to treat the flu??
Antiviral medications do not cure influenza. They only shorten the course of the illness by 2-3 days. Antivirals can have side effects such as nausea and vomiting. Last year there was a shortage of antivirals due to the large number of sick children. The best way to avoid the flu is to get the vaccine.