Flu Shots – Boon or Bane

The influenza vaccination is an annual vaccination given to protect against the highly variable influenza virus. Flu shots are given for all children 6 months and older ideally given as soon as the vaccine is available each year.

Flu can be very unpleasant for children. They have the same symptoms as adults – including fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and sore throat lasting up to a week. Some children develop a very high fever or complications of flu such as bronchitis, pneumonia and painful middle ear infection. They may need hospital treatment, and very occasionally a child may die from flu.

For children with long-term health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease or lung disease, getting flu can be very serious as they are more at risk of developing serious complications. The nasal spray flu vaccine will not only help to protect your child from getting flu, it also stops the disease spreading from them to their family and the wider population. This is known as herd immunity.

Benefits of flu Vaccine:

The shot has a very good safety profile. It’s been widely used in the US for more than 10 years and no safety concerns have been raised so far. The vaccine contains live, but weakened, forms of flu virus that do not cause flu in children who receive it. The flu vaccine protects children from serious illness and even death. The youngest children are especially vulnerable to the viruses that cause the flu. Every year in the United States, an average of 20,000 children younger than 5 are hospitalized with flu complications such as pneumonia. Children upto 2 years of age who come down with the flu are the most likely to need hospitalization and kids between 2-4 who get the flu are more likely than older children to see a doctor, be taken to an urgent care center or end up in an emergency room.

Side- Effects of the Vaccine:

Even though it won’t cause the flu, flu shots can commonly cause mild side effects, especially in younger children who are getting their flu shots for the first time. These reactions and flu shot side effects can include soreness, pain and swelling where the flu shot was given, but which are usually mild and last for less than 2 days. Keep in mind that there are protocols that allow people with egg allergies to get flu shots, so talk to your doctor or allergist if your child is at high risk for complications from the flu and also has an egg allergy.

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