Along with fall and football season, flu season is now upon us. Last year, more than 100 children died of the flu and many more were hospitalized due to severe illness and complications from the flu. Most of the children who died and/or were hospitalized were unvaccinated against the flu. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issues recommendations for the flu vaccine each year. This year, the AAP continues to recommend routine vaccination against the flu for children 6 months of age or older and encourages children to get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available in order to provide full coverage. They also recommend that everyone in the household get vaccinated in order to prevent the transmission of flu.
The specific recommendations from the AAP are as follows:
- Children should receive the vaccination by the end of October if possible. Children ages 6 months to 8 years who have never received the flu vaccine need two doses and therefore should begin their series as early in the season as possible.
- The AAP supports the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s ) recommendation to not use the live attenuated intranasal influenza vaccine this year due to its poor activity against influenza.
- Children 6 months and older with weakened immune systems, heart disease, history of prematurity, diabetes, asthma, other chronic lung disease and metabolic disorders have an increased risk of flu and therefore should be vaccinated against it.
- The flu vaccine should be given to all pregnant women, women who are attempting to become pregnant, women in the postpartum period and women who are breastfeeding during the flu season.
- Health care providers along with child care providers and staff should receive the influenza vaccine annually.
The flu vaccine is an inactivated vaccine meaning that it does not have the live flu virus and therefore cannot cause flu. The flu vaccine is injected into the muscle. As stated above, the CDC and AAP do not recommend using the intranasal flu vaccine during the 2017-2018 flu season. Children with an egg allergy of any severity can receive the flu vaccine without additional precautions. The best prevention against the flu is to receive the flu vaccine. Please call your physician’s office to find out if they have the flu vaccine and to make an appointment to receive it as soon as possible.