Home > Babies and Toddlers > Health and Safety > Immunizations and Vaccines > Do We Have to Get Flu Shots Every Year?
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Do We Have to Get Flu Shots Every Year?

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Henry Bernstein, M.D.

Q: The doctor recommends flu shots for our family, but our kids do not like having to get a shot every year. Is there anything else we can do instead?

A: Not really! I do not know of any other way to be protected against the most common types of influenza expected this winter. Because these viruses change regularly, the flu vaccine is updated each year. Health professionals would always prefer to prevent the flu with the vaccine rather than having to treat it with medicines once someone is infected.

On September 19, 2007 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved use of the nasal influenza vaccine LAIV (FluMist®) for healthy children ages 2-4 years old (24-59 months old) without a history of recurrent wheezing, as well as for healthy persons ages 5-49 years who are not pregnant. ("Healthy" indicates persons who do not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications.) This new flu vaccine is sprayed up the nose, which makes it easier to administer it. People (like your kids) tend to be more accepting of this approach than they are of a shot. Different drugs are also available to treat the flu, but nothing is used routinely as prophylaxis (taken to prevent infection or disease).

Remember that influenza is a serious disease that can cause fever, sore throat, muscle aches, cough, and chills. Those children with long-term health problems like asthma or immune systems that do not work optimally are prime candidates for the vaccine. In fact, anyone who may be in close contact with someone at high risk for influenza should get a flu shot.

The viruses used to make the vaccine are killed, so you cannot get the flu from receiving the shot. Once someone gets a flu shot, it takes up to two weeks to develop the right protection. So be sure your family gets the shots as soon as possible in October or early November, as the flu season sometimes can come quite early (e.g., before Thanksgiving).

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

7 Home Remedies to Soothe Cold & Flu Symptoms
The AAP does not recommend giving over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to children under 4, so treating children's cold and flu symptoms naturally can be the best course of action. Read about some home remedies that might help.

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!

11 Awesome Thanksgiving Games & Activities for Families
Looking for fun Thanksgiving Day activities for the whole family? Check out 11 kid-friendly indoor and outdoor activities that will bring your family together in the spirit of the holiday.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!