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As a new parent, you might have some concerns regarding the various illnesses that your child can pick up from the environment around her. Flu or influenza is caused by the influenza virus and is a seasonal occurrence. For children below the age of 5, influenza can prove to have many adverse effects. The seasonal flu shot is recommended for everyone, especially for children, as it provides protection from the influenza virus.
Why Are Flu Vaccines Given to Children
Children, and the people who have a history of asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and weakened immunity, are particularly susceptible to complications from influenza such as pneumonia. Children below 2 years of age are especially vulnerable. Fortunately, an influenza vaccine for babies is widely available.
How Do Children’s Flu Vaccines Work?
As with most other vaccines, the influenza virus contains weakened influenza flu viruses that do not cause any symptoms of the disease. The weakened viruses will cause your child’s body to develop resistance to the virus in a natural way. In case of real future exposure to the full-blown influenza virus, your child will not be susceptible to the same.
Who Should Be Given the Flu Vaccine
The flu shot for 6-month-old baby and older should be done every year.
Who Are At a High Risks of Getting a Flu
People who require the vaccine include:
- Children who are between 6 months and 5 years of age.
- Children who have chronic lung or heart conditions.
- Those who have metabolic diseases like diabetes.
- Those who have chronic kidney diseases.
- Those who have chronic anaemia.
- Those who are severely obese.
Who Shouldn’t Get Flu Shots
While you should discuss the various options regarding the flu vaccine with your child’s doctor, the vaccine is not administered to children below the age of 6 months, or to children who’ve reacted unfavourably to a flu vaccine in the past.
Another factor to look out for is if your child has an egg allergy. The viruses in the vaccine are grown in chicken eggs and could have traces of egg protein that can cause a reaction in your child. Do discuss with your child’s health care provider if your child is unwell and understand whether the vaccine administration can be delayed.
Schedule of Influenza Vaccine for Babies and Kids
The flu season usually lasts between the months of October to May. It is best to get the flu vaccine two weeks before this period as the body requires time to produce the necessary antibodies to fight the viruses.
As mentioned earlier, a flu shot for babies below 6 months is not recommended. However, if your baby turns 6 months right in the middle of flu season, it is still safe to get the vaccine. Ensure you consult your child’s paediatrician and get his/her sign off for the same.
Flu shots should be taken every year by everyone, including you and any other caregiver to your child as the flu can be highly contagious.
Side Effects of Flu Vaccine in Babies & Children
The influenza vaccine usually has a good track record and is not known to register too many side effects. However, in some cases, there are a few common side effects that you might observe with baby flu shot reaction.
- A runny or blocked nose
- A headache
- Loss of appetite
In very rare cases, doctors have noticed an anaphylactic reaction being caused by a flu shot. However, the person administering the vaccine will be trained to observe if your child is going into anaphylactic shock and will give first aid immediately.
1. Why is a new vaccine formulated every year?
A new vaccine is formulated every year because of the rapidly mutating viruses in the environment. Due to this reason, the previous year’s flu vaccine for kids will not be able to give you full protection against the virus.
2. How many doses are required for babies and kids?
If your child is between the ages of 6 months and 9 years, and she has never had a flu shot before, then she will need two shots placed 4 weeks apart. Children who have more regular shots can do with just one shot a year. The shots should be ideally given 2 weeks before the start of the flu season. Please discuss the same with your child’s doctor about any further queries.
3. How safe is the flu vaccine for kids?
The flu vaccine has a very good record in every country it has been used. While your child is still susceptible to catching the flu after taking the vaccine, the strain is usually a weak one that will not cause any serious complications.
4. What is the nasal flu vaccine (FluMist)?
The flu vaccine, in this case, is in the form of a nasal spray as opposed to an injection. It is administered to healthy children above the age of two years. Consult your child’s paediatrician before deciding on which form of the vaccine is best suited for your child.
5. Who should avoid taking nasal flu shots?
The nasal flu vaccine should be avoided by children under the age of two years old. Pregnant women with severely weakened immunity and people with severe asthma should also avoid the nasal flu vaccine.
6. Who should delay having a nasal spray vaccine for the flu?
Nasal spray vaccine for the flu should be avoided by children who have a runny or stuffy nose as the blocked nose might hinder the vaccine from entering the body. Children who have a wheeze must also delay the nasal spray until they have been wheeze-free for more than three days.
7. Is there any possibility the child may still get flu even if she gets the shots?
Yes, there is a small possibility that your child can get the flu, but it could be that of a strain that is different from the ones the vaccine has been created for.
8. Can a child get flu from the influenza vaccine?
It is impossible for your child to fall sick because of the weakened viruses in the vaccine. Your child may suffer from a runny nose or general fatigue, but even these symptoms are extremely mild when compared to that of the actual flu. The side effects will clear up within a few days.
9. Does a flu vaccine cause autism?
There has been no conclusive proof to link flu shots with autism. Every study has shown that both vaccinated and non-vaccinated children are at an equal risk of becoming autistic. Nowadays, vaccines are available even without any preservatives. Therefore, this isn’t a thing to worry about when getting a flu shot for your child.
10. Can a child get a flu vaccine at the same time as other vaccines?
Yes. However, it should be administered in a different place on your child’s body.
11. Can children with egg allergy get the influenza vaccine?
There have been no cases of children with egg allergies reacting adversely to the influenza vaccine. Do consult with your child’s doctor before deciding on any form of the vaccine.
The influenza vaccine can alleviate a lot of potential suffering for you and your child. The vaccine is especially recommended for children below the age of 5 years who are more susceptible to the various complications of influenza.
Also Read: Pneumococcal Vaccine for Babies