Consider this statement from Centers for Disease Control (CDC): Flu is more dangerous than the common cold for children. Nearly 20,000 children, under the age of five, are hospitalized each year from severe flu complications and many die as a result of these complications.
When your child receives a seasonal flu vaccine, he or she is protected from both the flu virus and its potentially severe complications. The recommendation from the CDC is that children aged six months until their 19th birthdays, get a seasonal flu vaccine as soon as it is available each year.
Furthermore, kids with long-term health conditions like heart disease, asthma, or diabetes are at higher risk of serious flu complications so it is particularly important for them to receive the yearly flu vaccine. The CDC also suggests yearly flu vaccines for anyone in close contact with children under age five.
Symptoms of the influenza or ‘flu’ virus typically include fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, cough and sore throat. Symptoms can begin within one to four days of being exposed to the virus from an infected person.
You can get the flu if another person with the virus coughs or sneezes and the germs enter your nose or mouth. If you touch a surface, like a door knob, that was touched and contaminated by someone with flu, and you touch your face, nose or mouth, you may catch the flu.
The Mayo Clinic explains that the children’s flu vaccine can be given as a shot or a nasal spray. The shots are for kids six months and older.
The side effects include swelling or soreness at the injection site, low-grade fever, fatigue, or muscle aches. If the side effects do occur, they may last for a day or two.
The nasal spray can be given to kids two years and older and your child may experience wheezing, headache, fever, aches, and occasionally, vomiting. Mayo Clinic states that children with various medical conditions and weakened immune systems should not use the nasal spray. They also suggest that your child receive the vaccine as a shot instead of the nasal spray if he or she has a stuffy head.
Always consult with your family doctor, who knows the medical history of your child, before deciding on a flu shot. Your physician will know which type of vaccine your child should receive and will answer any questions you may have about flu protection.
The Mayo Clinic. Does My Child Need a Flu Shot? Web. 31, Oct. 2011.
Center for Disease Control. Children, the Flu, and the Flu Vaccine. Web. 31, Oct. 2011.
Reviewed November 1, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith