Flu vaccine for children

November 30, 2012 Hema Nirmal, MD, FAAP

A lot of parents have questions about the flu vaccine and many parents refuse the vaccine as they feel it does not very effective. Some parents are concerned about vaccines in general and refuse vaccinating their child as they don’t want to administer another vaccine to their child. The best way to prevent getting flu is by vaccination.

What is flu (Influenza)?

Flu (influenza) is not just a common cold or a stomach virus as most people think. Influenza usually occurs during the winter in our region although it can occur all year around in other parts of the world. It can be a serious respiratory illness that can lead to complications especially in children and older adults. Symptoms are generally similar to any other common cold infections and can vary from fever, runny nose, nose congestion, cough, body aches and headaches. The body aches and headaches are mostly reported by older children and adults. Children may not be able to explain their symptoms and may just be fussy.

Most children get over the flu without any complications. In some children and adults, however, it can lead to serious complications including pneumonia.

How to prevent the flu:

Influenza is usually transmitted by coughing, contact with secretions and so it becomes extremely difficult to prevent transmission. Washing hands and staying away from sick people may help prevent but this does not always happen. The best way to prevent children and adults from getting influenza is by vaccination.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

The CDC (Center for Disease Control), and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends the flu vaccine to all children and adults over the age of 6 months for the 2012-2013 year. If there is an infant who is less than 6 months old at home, it is important that all the caretakers be immunized against influenza.

Types of flu vaccines:

There are 2 different types of flu vaccine available for children:

  • The inactivated virus vaccine which is recommended for all infants from 6 months to 18 years of age, children with history of asthma or wheezing over the past year, individuals with serious medical problems or on certain medications.

  • The live attenuated virus vaccine which is available as a nasal spray and recommended for healthy children and adults from 2 to 49 years of age.

Some individuals should not receive the flu vaccine. You should talk to your pediatrician or your primary care doctor to determine which vaccine is recommended for you and our child.

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