As a pediatrician serving families in Wake Forest, NC and beyond, I get a lot of questions about the flu. Questions like:
- I got my kids flu shots last year— do I really need to get it again this year?
- Won’t the vaccine make my kids sick?
- It’s just the flu— do they really need it?
Simply put— your kids absolutely need to get their flu shot this year. It needs to happen every year because Influenza is always evolving.
To further answer all of the questions I know all of you have, I’ve compiled the 3 key things you need to know this flu season.
1. It Spreads Fast
If anyone gets it, even you, the flu is going to go around like wildfire. That’s why as many children, adolescents , and adults should get it as possible. Caused by the influenza virus, the flu spreads quickly through each fall and winter. It can cause serious complications and even death in the healthiest of children. Each year, 5% to 20% of the U.S. population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from complications.
If your child gets the flu, they should stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone. That way you make sure they aren’t contagious. A fever is defined as 100.4° F or greater.
For more tips on preventing the flu, be sure to check out this helpful guide.
2. Nasal Spray is Out
This year it’s all about the the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV), given by intramuscular injection. Approved for children 6 months of age and older, this injectable vaccine comes either as an “inactivated” or “recombinant” vaccine. These vaccines do not contain any live influenza virus, so they cannot give your child the flu. Some children will develop symptoms and run a fever, but it is not the flu.
They are given by injection with a needle, and often called the “flu shot.” During the last three flu seasons, the nasal spray vaccine was shown to not protect as well as it should against certain strains of the flu, which is why the CDC has recommended the flu shot this year.
3. Both Your Kids and Teens Need It
Everyone in contact with children should get the flu shot. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends annual flu shots for everyone 6 months of age and older, including children and adolescents. For the 2016-17 flu season, both the AAP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only recommend the injected form of flu vaccine—the “flu shot.” New research shows that the flu shot provided significantly better protection in recent flu seasons compared to the nasal spray vaccine. For more information on the flu, check out the flu website by the U.S. Department of Human Services.
What Else Do You Need to Know?
If you want to learn more about this year’s flu, check out the statements by the AAP and this great coloring book to teach your kids about fighting it. Have more questions about the flu vaccine or want to schedule an appointment with Rainbow Kids Pediatrics? Contact us to set up an appointment. At Rainbow Kids Pediatrics we are understanding and honored to serve children from birth through adolescence. Let us help you through Flu season.