With flu season right around the corner, now is the time to get your child flu vaccinations. The current recommendation is that all children and adults over 6 months of age receive a flu vaccine. Infants 6 months to 2 years, older adults, pregnant women, and anyone with a chronic underlying illness are especially at risk from the flu and its complications. So why is the flu shot universally recommended? The simple answer: influenza does not discriminate. Hundreds of thousands of people each year are hospitalized with influenza, and people of all ages die each year from the disease. Flu is a serious health problem and can lead to complications like pneumonia, ear infections, and sinus infections, and it can worsen existing conditions like asthma, heart disease, or diabetes.
Now you ask…when should you get vaccinated? Since the flu season is right around the corner, getting vaccinated now should cover you throughout the season. Should you get the shot or nasal spray? Either is effective, however, the nasal spray is only approved for healthy children and non-pregnant adults age 2-49, without asthma, heart disease, diabetes, or any other underlying chronic condition. The number one question I get asked is “Will I get the flu from the vaccine?” The answer is no, although I can’t tell you the number of people who swear they got the flu from the vaccine. Simply speaking, it’s not possible, because the virus used in flu shots is inactivated, meaning it’s dead. However, as with other vaccines, common side effects are possible, which include soreness at the injection site, a low-grade fever, or a little achiness.
As with all vaccinations, I remind my patients that the risk of complications from the disease far outweigh the side effects from the vaccine. Don’t take your chances with the real disease, get immunized!