There are a number of opinions surrounding the flu vaccine. Many people are very supportive of the vaccine and have their children vaccinated every year. On the other side of the argument are those who do not support the vaccine and do not wish to have their children vaccinated at all. The truth is, there are definite benefits to the vaccine and valid reasons to have your children vaccinated.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children 6 months and older be vaccinated. Children with chronic illnesses and children who have a high risk of developing pneumonia (ie. children with asthma, diabetes, or a chronic lung disease) should definitely be vaccinated. Vaccines should be given as soon as they are available because the flu season can begin as early as October and continue through May. In addition to the children, other members of the household and caregivers of children should be vaccinated.
So, what are the choices for your child's vaccination? The flu shot uses a killed virus and therefore cannot give you the flu. It is approved for children older than 6 months and can be given to both healthy children and those with chronic illness. The side effects of the flu shot can be tenderness and swelling around the injection site, a low grade fever and aches.
The nasal mist vaccine uses a live virus that has been weakened. Just like the killed virus, this weakened virus cannot make you sick. It is approved for children 2 years old and older. This vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women or people with asthma. Some of the side effects of the nasal spray are runny nose, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, fever, and wheezing.
People who should not be vaccinated are those with an allergy to chicken eggs. People sick with a fever should wait until they are well before having the vaccine. The vaccine is not designed for children under 6 months. People who have had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccination should not be vaccinated. Those able to be vaccinated should be vaccinated every year. The flu virus changes every year and is made up of the three viruses that are thought to be the most likely offenders for that year.
By keeping your children's immunizations up to date, you have a better chance of fighting off the flu. The vaccine is not an absolute guarantee that your children will not get the flu. Because the vaccine is not always a perfect match to the virus for that year, people who have had the vaccine can still get sick. The illness is usually milder than without the shot, and serious complications do not usually develop.
Some people that get vaccinated become ill shortly after having it. The body takes about two weeks to build up enough antibodies to fight off the flu. If you become ill right after the vaccine, then you were going to get sick anyway. Some people believe that they do not need the vaccine because they are healthy, and the people that they are around also seem healthy. People that seem healthy can still pass the virus along before they show symptoms of the illness (Harvard, 2013).
The best prevention for the flu is the flu vaccine. This is not the only thing that you should do to prevent the flu, but it is very important. Other precautions include washing hands and disinfecting surfaces that you come in contact with. As a parent you must protect your children and find ways to keep them healthy. Follow the experts' advice and have your children vaccinated.