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Flu Season Is Here: Understanding the Importance of Pediatric Flu Shots

Flu Season Is Here: Understanding the Importance of Pediatric Flu Shots

While we take respiratory illnesses like the common cold for granted, the events of the last few years have raised awareness of how dangerous some of these viral infections can be. Pediatric flu shots are an important part of keeping your family protected. 

Both the very young and very old have increased health risks when exposed to the flu. While healthy children and adults suffer for a week or two, the breathing complications can be deadly for vulnerable portions of the population. 

Dr 2 Kids, Smita Tandon, MD, recommends that all her patients follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations that all children six months of age and older receive an annual flu shot by the end of October each year. The flu vaccine is a reliable and safe way to prevent the flu or minimize its effects if your child does get infected. 

Flu basics

While the word “flu” is often used to describe other conditions, like “stomach flu,” influenza is strictly a respiratory illness caused by viruses that affect the nose, throat, and lungs. It may be mild or serious. It can even be severe enough to cause death. 

Flu viruses are thought to be transmitted through the air in tiny droplets after a cough or a sneeze, or by contact with a contaminated surface. As much as 11% of the American population can be infected during a flu season, extending from autumn to spring. 

The viruses that cause the flu constantly mutate so that vaccine formulations need to change over time. Some years the illness from flu viruses can be mild while in other years it’s more severe. As many as 1,200 children can die from the flu during serious flu years. 

The safety of flu vaccinations

Many parents worry that the flu shot itself can cause the illness. Current vaccine formulations make this impossible. Some vaccines build around dead flu viruses while others use a single gene from a virus. In both cases, your child’s immune system learns to recognize these viruses without being exposed to an active version. 

There may be mild side effects from the vaccine that resemble the flu. This is common and normal. Symptoms usually include: 

Children over the age of two may be able to receive their flu vaccine through a nasal spray, if a vaccine in this form is available for the current flu season. Talk to Dr. Tandon to see if this option is available. 

Understanding the importance of pediatric flu shots

The primary benefit of a pediatric flu shot is to prevent your child from becoming seriously ill with influenza. While getting the shot early in the flu season is the best course of action, your child benefits even if they receive their vaccination late. 

The secondary benefit of the shot goes to those around you who will not be exposed to the flu virus from your protected child. More people vaccinated means fewer virus exposures in the community at large. 

Request an appointment online or by phone for your child’s pediatric flu shot. The vaccine takes about two weeks for full protection. The time to act is now. Book your session today. 

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