Fall has officially arrived! Every year, the practices that make up One Pediatrics welcome the new season by encouraging families to get their flu vaccinations. As Covid-19 and its consequences have dominated healthcare news for the last couple years, it’s easy to forget how serious flu can become. We’d like to remind you that flu prevention is still a high priority, and early vaccination is best.
DOES MY CHILD REALLY NEED A FLU SHOT EVERY YEAR?
Yes! All children ages 6 months and older should receive a flu vaccine every year unless they have a history of allergic reaction to a flu vaccine or other limitation. Getting a vaccine as soon as they’re offered is preferable—influenza commonly spreads as the weather turns colder and people spend more time indoors. Shots and nasal spray vaccines are both effective, though quantities of the nasal spray are typically limited.
WE’VE GOTTEN A VACCINE BEFORE AND MY CHILD STILL CAUGHT FLU THAT YEAR.
As a parent, you may have been discouraged in the past if your child got their vaccine and still contracted flu. The influenza virus evolves each year, and vaccines are carefully manufactured to offer the best prevention possible. No one knows for sure how the virus will continue to change, but at a minimum, vaccination can help prevent serious complications.
Flu is a notorious vehicle for pneumonia. Any compromise to the immune system is an opportunity for further illness, and children with asthma are especially vulnerable to respiratory distress. Fever is also a primary symptom of the flu, which can become dangerous if prolonged. Even children who are otherwise healthy and have no other medical conditions can be hospitalized with flu and develop life-threatening complications.
Remember too that viruses don’t call “dibs” on a host. Anyone can contract more than one virus or infection at a time, forcing even the healthiest bodies to work that much harder. If you can prevent one virus and/or its more serious symptoms, that’s a positive start.
WHAT IF MY CHILD JUST HAD A FLU SHOT IN THE SPRING?
Even if someone in your family received a flu vaccine in March or April, the American Academy of Pediatrics says they should still get another one now. That previous vaccine was manufactured to fight the strains of flu anticipated for Fall 2021, and this year’s vaccine is different. You don’t have to be on a 12-months-apart schedule for flu vaccines.
DOES IT MATTER WHERE WE GET A FLU SHOT?
Many places, including pharmacies and retail clinics, offer flu vaccines. We know you have options, but your pediatrician is ideal for several reasons:
- We know your child and they know us. A familiar, family-friendly environment where staff are accustomed to vaccinating a variety of age groups can be especially helpful for nervous kids. We already have your insurance information on file as well, so the process is smoother for busy parents.
- Their immunization record is readily updated with this year’s flu vaccine.
- Not all pharmacies or retail clinics will vaccinate children of any age. Most have specific age-related policies. PLEASE NOTE that the Covid-19 vaccine received special clearances to immunize as many people as possible—a clinic that gave a Covid vaccine to a 5-year-old may not be able to give a flu shot to the same child.
WHY SHOULD WE GET FLU VACCINES AS SOON AS POSSIBLE?
The earlier, the better. The AAP states that flu vaccines take about two weeks for full effectiveness. As children attend school and family and friends gather for holidays, the virus has more opportunities to spread. By getting annual vaccines, you’re both protecting your family and doing your part for others who may be especially vulnerable, including infants under 6 months old, elderly persons, and immunocompromised individuals, all of whom are at higher risk for serious complications.
Learn more about your practice’s flu vaccination options by visiting their web site, Facebook page, or calling the office. We’re working hard to make sure flu vaccines are as hassle-free as possible.