We asked Dr. Scott Dattel of Kansas City Pediatrics to help us answer a few questions about the flu shot for kids:
Q: Should kids get a flu shot?
A: Yes. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children especially those at high risk of having been exposed to serious cases of influenza should get the flu vaccine. These would include:
- children who have required regular medical follow-ups or hospitalization during the previous year
- kids who have themselves, or are exposed to family members who have long-term health problems with: heart, lung or kidney disease, asthma, metabolic disease such as diabetes, anemia and other blood disorders
- anyone whose immune system is weakened due to HIV/AIDS or other diseases that affect the immune system or long-term treatment with drugs such as steroids and cancer x-rays or drugs
- children 6 months to 18 years of age on long-term aspirin treatment.
- students and other persons in institutional settings such as college dormitories and children 6 months and up in group day-care settings.
Q: How old does my child have to be to receive the flu shot?
A: Over 6 months of age.
Q: Where can we go to receive the flu shot?
A: Go to your pediatrician or county health department.
Q: When should we get the flu shot?
A: The "influenza season" in the U.S. is from November through April so the best time to get influenza vaccine is during October and November. But getting the vaccine after November can still provide protection.
Q: Will my child need more than one flu shot?
A: Children 9 years and older need only one shot. Children less than 9 years old need two shots, given one month apart the first time they get vaccinated against influenza. A new shot is needed again each year.
Q: Who should not get the flu shot?
A: Anyone with a serious allergic reaction to eggs, or to a previous dose of influenza vaccine, anyone younger than 6 months of age.
Q: How can I learn more about getting the flu shot for our family?
A: Ask your doctor or nurse. They can give you the vaccine package insert and other sources of information. Also visit the National Immunization Program's Website at http://www.cdc.gov/nip
Tips for avoiding the flu:
- Wash you hands often throughout the day and especially before you eat.
- Don't share drinks.
- Vaccinate your family and if your child is younger than 6 months and in group care ask your care provider to get vaccinated.
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