It’s that time of year again. Flu vaccination time! Most local pediatric offices have received flu vaccines are already administering them. I got mine today at work. Unfortunately, the flu nasal spray vaccine (commonly known as Flumist) is not recommended this year because of decreased effectiveness with last year’s flu strains. So no SNIFFING this year! Just a shot. I know, I know…kids won’t like it.
Here are the brief WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, AND WHY of the flu vaccine as it pertains to CHILDREN.
Who should get the flu vaccine?
- Everyone 6 months and older
- Especially those at high risk for flu complications:
- children younger than 5, but especially those younger 2 years old
- kids with chronic medical conditions, particularly
- chronic lung disease
- heart disease
- weakened immune systems
- neurological, blood, endocrine, kidney, liver, metabolic disorders
What is the flu shot?
- A vaccine given by needle, usually in the arm (or thigh for infants/toddlers)
- Can be trivalent (protects against 3 flu viruses) or quadrivalent (4 flu viruses). Usually covers 2 Influenza A viruses plus 1 or 2 Influenza B viruses
- Some are manufactured using egg products, so those with severe egg allergy need to notify their doctor
- Do not cause influenza because they are made from inactivated (killed) influenza virus—this is compared to the nasal spray which was made with live, but weakened influenza virus
When should my kid get the flu shot?
- It takes about 2 weeks for immunity to build up in your system.
- Try to get the shot by the end of October, since peak flu season is December-March. There have already been some positive Flu tests at Baylor Scott & White. Flu season begins now!
Where should I get the flu shot?
- At your doctor’s office. Providence Pediatrics, Hillcrest Pediatrics, Baylor Scott & White Pediatrics, and Heart of Texas Pediatrics all have flu shots in stock. Call your pediatrician’s office to see if they have appropriate flu vaccine for your insurance (Medicaid vs private) in stock.
- At the local pharmacies. HEB, Walgreen’s and CVS often have flu shots available for discounted prices.
Why get the flu vaccine?
- Reduce flu illnesses, doctor’s visits, missed school due to flu
- Reduce flu complications and hospitalizations
- Reduces the risk of flu illness by ~50-60% during seasons when the vaccines match the circulating flu viruses
- Specifically for kids, studies show flu vaccine reduced risk of PICU admission by ~75%
What are some complications of the flu?
- Most people recover from the flu within 2 weeks. However, others can develop:
- Respiratory failure
- Sinus and ear infections
- Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart)
- Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
- Myositis, rhabdomyolysis (inflammation of muscle)
- Kidney failure
My recommendation is to call your pediatrician’s office TODAY and schedule a nurse visit for the flu shot. Don’t delay. The flu is on it’s way!
In a few weeks, I will re-post my blog from last year that discussed the differences between the flu, a cold, and strep. Until then, keep your kids healthy and stay safe!
Soo Battle, M.D., F.A.A.P.
All the above information and more can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this website/blog is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the relationship that exists between you and your pediatrician or doctor. Please contact your doctor for medical advice and/or treatment recommendations specific to your child.