Four essential flu facts you should know when getting your kid vaccinated.
If you’ve ever been awakened in the middle of the night by the coughing and sneezing of a sick child, you know how difficult it can be to see your child suffer. And if it’s the flu, children can be sick a week or more. Influenza is highly contagious and can cause children to miss valuable time away from school and force parents to take time off from work and other activities while nursing kids back to health.
To guard against the flu, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children 6 months and older get a flu vaccine. Talk to your pediatrician and consider these four important flu facts when getting the shot.
1. The vaccine protects children’s weaker immune systems.
Children are more susceptible to catching the flu than adults with fully developed immune systems. Younger children frequently share germs in classrooms, on playgrounds and in daycares, but the influenza vaccine protects them and reduces the risk of contracting the flu by 80 percent.
2. The vaccine is changed yearly to fight newly emerging strains of the virus.
Individuals who received vaccines in previous years are still at risk of contracting the flu because unlike other illnesses, such as chickenpox, the flu virus keeps changing. Getting a yearly flu shot is the only way to ensure protection against the most common and current forms of the flu.
3. The vaccine helps avoid serious medical complications.
Influenza can lead to other complications such as pneumonia and Reye syndrome. The flu vaccine is an easy way to prevent your family members from developing these complications.
4. The vaccine prevents spread of the virus in your community.
Although you may be willing to risk contracting the influenza virus, your children – and their classmates, teachers and their families, not to mention your co-workers – may not be excited about taking that same risk. Immunizing your entire household helps create herd immunity, which reduce spread of the disease.
Flu season typically runs from October through May, and it is best to be immunized as early in the season as possible. Talk to your pediatrician to learn how the flu vaccine can benefit your child.
Vanderbilt’s Children’s After-Hours Clinics offer the convenience of a walk-in clinic with care provided by a board-certified pediatrician from Children’s Hospital. No appointment is necessary, but we recommend calling your pediatrician first. Learn more about services and find locations for Children’s Hospital After-Hours Clinic locations.