Flu Shots and Kids
Except in the case of allergy, it's never a bad idea for people of almost any age to consider the flu shot. Each year, the vaccine is designed to protect against the influenza strains that are expected to be most common during the flu season that year. Although the shot doesn't guarantee that you won't catch the flu—it is always possible to get a different strain of the flu from the ones targeted in the vaccine—it adds a layer of protection against an illness that affects 5 to 20 percent of people each year.
The vaccine is strongly recommended for children 6 months up to 18 years, the elderly, those with certain chronic health problems and those who are going to be around anyone who might get very sick from the flu. If you do the math, this is a large percent of the population!
Here are some questions you might consider when deciding whether or not your kid should get the flu shot:
- Will you be visiting elderly relatives during flu season?
- Do you have an infant at home?
- Does your child have asthma or other chronic health issues?
- Are you able to be home with your child if he gets sick with the flu?
If you've decided that the flu vaccine would be a good idea, don't let an aversion to needles keep your child from getting it. In addition to the traditional kids' flu shot (injection), there is a nasal spray called FluMist that may be a particularly good option for children and adults who don't like needles. The nasal vaccine can be given to healthy people ages 2 to 49 who are not pregnant. Because the vaccine guidelines differ slightly for the shot and the spray, ask your doctor which one is right for members of your family.