When Should Children Begin Getting Flu Shots?

Flu is a problem you are likely all too familiar with, one which comes around this time of year like clockwork. The flu is especially harmful to young children and toddlers who have less natural immunity to infectious viruses. Luckily, we have vaccines, one of the best weapons available with which to fight disease.

But when should children begin getting their flu shots?

When is it OK for children to start getting flu shots?

The CDC advises that all children over the age of 6 months get their flu shot in September – October. This gives their bodies enough time to produce protective antibodies (typically a 2-week process) and also protects them for the duration of flu season.

While the danger of seasonal influenza depends on the year, flu poses a major risk for young children at all times. The CDC estimates that, since the year 2010, those under the age of 5 have represented between 7,000 and 26,000 hospitalizations from influenza in the US. And since 2004, child mortality from the annual flu season has ranged from 37 to 188 cases. Of note, over 80% of those children were not vaccinated against influenza.

Annual vaccinations can help prevent hospitalization and reduce the severity of symptoms if your child does catch the flu.

Can children under 12 months get a flu shot?

Vaccines are safe for young children and are strongly advised by the CDC for anyone over the age of 6 months. Because children 6 months and younger should not get flu shots, it’s recommended that parents – including breastfeeding mothers – and family get flu shots to help protect the child.

Are flu shots effective for toddlers?

Influenza is particularly dangerous for young children, and any measure that can be taken to prevent its contraction is a prudent one. A vaccine will greatly increase immunity by producing antibodies for the virus before potential exposure.

In a 4-year study which analyzed the efficacy of the flu vaccine among children aged 1 to 15, rates of successful vaccination were 77% and higher for a particular, common strain of the seasonal flu.

What are the common side effects of the flu shot in children?

Flu shots are manufactured with inactivated genetic material from a virus; this allows the body to create antibodies. This material cannot cause infection itself and does not affect other vaccines.

All the same, there are some minor side effects associated with a flu shot, mainly swelling and redness associated with the injection.

Why do children need to get a flu vaccine every year?

Children under the age of 5 are considered to be at an especially high risk for complications from flu, including:

  • Inflammation of the brain and heart
  • Organ failure
  • Sepsis
  • Pneumonia
  • Other serious health related issues

Flu shots need to be given annually due to something called antigenic drift. This means that the genetic makeup of the virus changes such that its recognition by the human immune system becomes difficult, even if antibodies for a previous iteration of flu are present in the host.

The CDC is tasked with predicting the amount of antigenic drift so that vaccine manufacturers can create a relevant vaccine for the upcoming flu season. Additionally, there are multiple, different strains of influenza. Therefore, the “active ingredients” of a flu vaccine will be genetic material from all strains of the flu predicted to be present in the upcoming flu season. Note that this genetic material is inactive and will not cause infection itself.

Related:

In-Home Flu Shots For Children And Families With Drip Hydration

Here at Drip Hydration, we administer flu shots to you and your family in the comfort of your home. Our licensed, medical professionals will arrive right at your door, vaccine in hand. Do not wait any longer to vaccinate your body against this disease and schedule an appointment today.