Flu Season

January 8, 2019 by: Pediatrics for Parents staff

It’s hard to believe that the flu season is here. That means it’s time to protect you and your children with a flu shot. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children six months and older receive the flu shot.

Many people think the flu is just a bad cold. It’s not. It’s a serious and sometimes life-threatening illness that can kill. “The flu virus is common – and unpredictable. It can cause serious complications even in healthy children,” said Flor M. Munoz, MD, FAAP, member of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases. “Being immunized reduces the risk of a child being hospitalized due to flu.”

The 2017-2018 flu season was a particularly severe one. A total of 179 children died from flu-associated causes, and thousands of children were hospitalized. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 80% of the children who died didn’t receive the flu shot.

“Staying healthy is the goal for all of us. As a pediatrician and mom, I see too often how quickly the flu spreads,” said Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBA, FAAP, a pediatrician in Seattle and an AAP spokesperson. “Unfortunately, you can spread influenza without realizing it because some infected people begin to spread the virus a day or two before they have symptoms. Get the shot. It just makes sense.”

Some parents mistakenly think that since their child is basically healthy with no chronic diseases a flu shot is unnecessary. This is faulty logic. It’s often healthy children with no other medical problems who die from the flu.

The AAP recommends all children six months old and older receive the flu shot by the end of October. The nasal spray vaccine hasn’t been as effective as the injectable vaccine for the past two seasons, so it should be used only if the injectable isn’t available or appropriate.

Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May. It can take up to two weeks for the flu shot to provide maximal protection.

Children six months through eight years old need two doses if it’s the first time they are receiving the vaccine. Children nine and older, regardless of their vaccination history, need only one shot.

An egg allergy is not a reason to pass on receiving the vaccine. Pregnant women can receive the vaccine any time during their pregnancy.

Article Reference:

American Academy of Pediatrics, 09/03/18