The flu virus is rather common and also quite unpredictable and can strike any time., It can cause serious complications and even untimely death, in the most healthy children. Regular immunization each year is the mandatory to protect children against the flu. Read on to know more.
The influenza virus causes a respiratory infection called Influenza or “flu”. Outbreaks of influenza are very common and happen every year. Although it is hardly ever dangerous to the health of adults, it could be very dangerous to children. Children are two or three times more susceptible to get influenza. To avoid this debilitating virus, it’s best that children and adults be vaccinated against this virus as it protects one from flu and its many complications. The influenza vaccination is safe and mandatory for all those six months of age and above.
Must Know Facts About Flu Vaccination for Kids
Flu symptoms among children
Flu viruses are many and vary each year. Despite this, children display these symptoms: sore throat, cough, fever, congestion, shivering, body ache, vomiting, nausea and headache. Little children with flu are at risk for these health issues: pneumonia, sinusitis, bronchitis and ear infection.
How flu vaccines work
The best way of protecting babies and children from the flu is to vaccinate them. There are two types of flu vaccines for children: one that is injected in the arm of kids below two years of age and the other is a spray that healthy children inhale.
The vaccine is made from the virus that’s dead, so it cannot cause the flu. When the child’s immune system comes in contact with the flu vaccine, it creates antibodies to fight the virus. Once this happens, the child will recover and never have flu symptoms.
However, vaccines don’t protect kids from all viruses. That’s why they do get colds and infections from other viruses or strains of the flu virus.
At what age should infants be vaccinated against flu?
Influenza viruses change from one year to another, so people cannot stay immune indefinitely. Hence, doctors advise that patients take flu shots once a year, anytime from October to mid-November as protection against virus right through the flu season that ends in April.
Six months to nine years
Six month-old babies to nine year olds who take this shot for the first time will have to take two doses of it with a gap of four weeks between them. Children who take a dose of the seasonal flu shot need to take just one dose each year. Children over six months of age should be given a flu shot every year.
Infants above six months of age need to take a flu shot every year, particularly if they are high risk of contracting complications from the flu. This also includes those who are six months of age and age five years; or suffer from severe heart disease or lung disorders like dysplasia, asthma, cystic fibrosis and immune deficiencies, HIV, cancer, diabetes and chronic kidney problems.
If your child is under five years of age, he has the potential to get flu complications like convulsions, fever and pneumonia. Further, children of this age with health issues should not only be vaccinated themselves, but the rest of the family should also get flu shots.
If pregnant women are immunized, their babies born during the flu season are naturally protected against this virus at least for the next few months. Nursing mothers should also be immunized as infants under six months of age cannot get this shot, so they remain safe when antibodies from the mother are transferred to them through breast milk.
Children who should take the flu shot
If your child suffers from heart, kidney or lung disease, diabetes, asthma, HIV or sickle cell anaemia or cancer, he should definitely take a flu shot.
Children who should avoid getting the flu shot
Children who shouldn’t take this shot include babies below six months of age, babies or toddlers with an allergy to thimerosal.
The side-effects of the flu are mild and include soreness around the area where the needle was injected into the arm; mild fever or pain.
Allergic reactions to the flu
Serious side-effects of the flu are rare, but it could mean that your child is allergic to the shot. You know that he is if he displays these reactions:
- Respiratory problems
- General weakness
- Rapid heartbeat
- Turns pale
If you see any of these symptoms, call for emergency help immediately.
Risks and responsibilities of not vaccinating your child
It is a parent’s duty to protect his child from pain, discomfort and dangerous health situations. One way of doing this is to give him vaccines in childhood. However, if there is a medical reason to avoid it, a parent may, but he or she must understand that there are risks involved. In case a parent chooses not to have his child vaccinated, he or she must do the following:
If the child falls sick, a doctor should be called in immediately and informed that the child isn’t vaccinated. This will help them prescribe certain tests to be done. If the child has a disease that can be prevented by a vaccine, the doctor can suggest precautions that will keep the disease from spreading to others around.
Protect your child
It is important to give children vaccines to prevent them from contracting deadly diseases, such as:
- Measles: This leads to the swelling of the brain and eventual brain damage or death.
- Mumps: This can lead to permanent deafness.
- Meningitis: Meningitis can cause brain damage or permanent deafness.
- Polio: Polio causes permanent paralysis.
Any child can be exposed to these diseases, which are often communicable through the air. People one comes in contact with may be carriers of these diseases, even if they don’t look ill. Since there aren’t proven cures for mumps, measles and polio, prevention through vaccines is the best way out.
It pays to have children vaccinated as the pay-offs are tremendous. First, flu shots can save a child’s life for flu-related diseases. They are also safer since now parents can request for thimerosal-free vaccines, if they fear that flu shots cause autism. Besides, for a little pain that children go through, it doesn’t make sense not to give them the shot at all.