Should I get my child vaccinated against the flu? Well, first-let’s revisit the flu and discuss what it is. Flu or influenza virus is common but unpredictable. During the last season, masks and diligent hand hygiene kept flu numbers down. Not to mention, while children aren’t strong vectors of covid, they are for flu! The flu can cause serious illness and complications, even in healthy individuals.
Children play a pivotal role in the spreading of the flu to households and other close contacts. Thousands of children are sickened by the flu every year. According to the CDC, during the 2018-2019 flu season, 144 children died from the flu. Individuals over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated against the flu to reduce the risk of infection and prevent severe illness. Children should receive the flu vaccine as soon as it is available in their community, ideally by the end of October. AAP recommends children and teens are vaccinated with either the injected or nasal spray vaccine, with no preference to one over the other.
Is the flu vaccine effective?
Efficacy varies each year as it depends on the flu virus strain circulating in the community. Effectiveness is also dependable on the age, the health status of the individual receiving the vaccine, as well as when the vaccine is completed in relation to the circulation of the flu virus. Recent studies done by the CDC demonstrate flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu infection between 40 to 60 percent among the overall population during seasons when the circulating flu viruses are well matched to those used to make the vaccine.
What does the vaccine protect against?
This year the vaccine will include two A virus strains and two B virus strains. This will protect against the four strains of the influenza virus expected to circulate this flu season.
Can my child receive the flu shot with other immunizations?
The flu vaccine can be administered alongside routine immunizations as well as the COVID-19 vaccine if your child is eligible for the COVID vaccine.
How many doses are the vaccine?
The number of recommended doses differs by the child’s age and their vaccination history. Children that are 6 months to 8 years of age and have not previously received a flu vaccine should receive two doses that are spaced one month apart. Likewise, children in the same age range as above should receive two doses if they have only ever received one dose of the flu vaccine prior to turning 8. Children who are nine years and older should receive one dose of the flu vaccine.
If my child has an egg allergy can he/she get the flu shot?
Children with egg allergies can still receive the flu vaccine as this is not a contraindication for the vaccination. Additional precautions do not need to be taken other than those recommended for any vaccine.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
Side effects can vary from child to child. The most common side effect of the flu shot is pain and tenderness at the site of the injection. Children may also have a fever within the first 24 hours after vaccine administration, especially for children who are receiving the vaccine for the first time. You can not get the flu from the intramuscular flu shot (see below). The intranasal flu vaccine may result in a runny nose or sore throat.
Can my child get the flu from the vaccine?
No, the flu vaccines are made from killed or weakened viruses. However, after vaccination, your body’s immune response can cause mild symptoms such as a headache, muscle aches, fatigue, fever, and chills.