Back to School at FamilyEducation.com
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Flu Shots for Kids?

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Henry Bernstein, M.D.

Q: I've heard talk about getting a flu shot, but thought it was mostly for old people. Do children ever get it? How do I know whether my child should receive it?

A: The flu (influenza) vaccine is strongly recommended for any person six months or older at increased risk of having the flu. This may be age-related (e.g., geriatric patients) or those with underlying medical conditions. In pediatrics, we particularly target children with significant heart disease, with compromised lung-function (e.g., cystic fibrosis or severe asthma), and with other chronic diseases. The timing is perfect for getting a flu shot. It is important for people to get the vaccine now, so that when flu season strikes, our body has already had time to make "protection" antibodies.

The contraindications to receiving the vaccine are allergic reactions to previous flu shots or immediate allergy to eggs or egg-products. The side-effects of the shot are infrequent and not severe--including fever, tiredness, and muscle ache beginning 6-12 hours after the vaccination and persisting for 1 or 2 days. The vaccine is effective in preventing disease, but not against all flu strains. Even if you were vaccinated last year, it doesn't fully protect against the strains that might be a problem this year. Immunity does go down during the year following vaccination, so you need one shot every year to help be protected.

Once the decision is made to receive the flu vaccine, understand that children less than nine years of age who are receiving the flu vaccine for the first time need to have two doses administered at least one month apart. This allows these previously unvaccinated children to make appropriate amounts of antibody. One might also consider immunizing all people living in the home, so as to minimize flu exposure for everyone. Please check with your child's doctor if you think your child is a candidate for it. Now is the time to get the flu shot!

More on: Expert Advice

Henry Bernstein, M.D., is currently the associate chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of Primary Care at Children's Hospital, Boston. He also has an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Handwriting Headquarters
We've got handwriting practice worksheets, handwriting tips, and answers to your child's writing struggles, just in time for back to school. Brought to you by BIC.

11 Coolest Lunch Boxes for Kids
Send your child's lunch to school in style! Check out our picks for the 11 best lunch boxes with great features from BPA-free accessories to spill-resistant fabric.

7 Important Back-to-School Safety Tips
Follow these back-to-school safety tips to make sure your child stays safe on the way to school, in the classroom, and while on the playground.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!