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Should my Child get the Flu Vaccine?

October 9, 2018

With summer behind us and fall and winter in front of us, there are endless things to look forward to! Cooler temperatures, a slew of holiday celebrations and the excitement of seeing the first snow are all looming on the not-so-distant horizon. With all those wonderful things, however, comes one season every parent hates: flu season. Unfortunately, the 2018 flu season is one of the worst yet, largely because influenza A and B strains are floating around at the same time. Typically, one strain dominates early on in the season, and the other strain surfaces later. This year, however, they’re both out there together, making people really sick. As an added whammy, flu vaccines are less effective than anticipated.

This year (2018-2019 influenza season), there are two types of vaccines available. The first is what most of us refer to as the “flu shot,” and is exactly as it sounds; the vaccine is injected via the mechanism of a shot. The second vaccine available is a nasal spray, which is where someone receives the vaccine via inhalation through his or her nasal passages. You may be asking yourself, “Should my child get the flu vaccine?” The short answer is simple: YES! Your child should absolutely be vaccinated. In fact, “both the AAP and the CDC want as many children as possible to get a flu vaccine each and every year. The AAP recommendation this year is that all eligible children six months and older should get the flu shot” (Source).

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the flu shot this year (over the nasal spray) as the best choice to vaccinate and protect your children. The nasal spray works differently then the shot; it is known as a live attenuated influenza vaccine, and has weakened viruses that slowly reproduce in the lining of the nose, giving the body a chance to recognize the viruses, fight back and ultimately develop immunity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps track of how well vaccines work every year, and found that surprisingly, the nasal spray flu vaccine didn’t really protect people against the flu in 2013-2014, 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. Because of these statistics, the AAP and CDC decided to recommend ONLY the shot this season. In general, flu season runs from October – May, and the sooner you get yourself and your child vaccinated, the better! Also keep in mind, if you have a child that is less than nine years old and getting the flu shot for the first time, your kid will need two doses, a month apart, to be fully protected and vaccinated. Vaccinate yourself and your child, wash your hands, eat healthily and stay home if you are not feeling well. There’s only so much each and every one of us can do for prevention, but small measures do add up and we can ultimately create a healthier world, one step at a time.

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