The American Academy of Pediatrics says in a statement this week that all children should get a flu shot as soon as it becomes available this season, preferably before the end of October. All across the country, many pediatricians will be offering their patients both the standard flu shot and FluMist nasal spray, depending on your child’s preference.
As many moms and dads know, the flu shot contains dead influenza virus strains, while the nasal spray contains weakened viruses. It’s also the academy's first choice for children 6 months and older because it has provided the most consistent protection against all strains of the virus in recent years.
The Centers for Disease Control says this year's vaccines have been updated to better match current flu strains. It also emphasizes that the shot is preferred over the nasal mist. With that being said though, the FluMist is an alternative for children who completely refuse to get a shot.
Unfortunately, the flu plagues parents and families with health problems every year. The Center for Disease Control estimates that between 140,000 and 700,000 people get sick enough from flu every year in the U.S. to need hospital care, and the annual flu epidemic kills anywhere from 12,000 to 56,000 people a year, depending on how bad the flu season is, reports USA Today.
If that weren’t enough, the CDC also added that this past flu season was a severe one. Flu activity stayed high in all 50 states, or nearly all, for weeks on end — an unusual pattern.
Health experts are also reminding families thatit takes about two weeks for your body to build immunity from the flu. If you're exposed to flu during that time, you'll still get it but it won't be as severe.
Keep in mind that the number of doses of influenza vaccine depends on a child's age and vaccine history. Children 6 months through 8 years of age need two doses when it is the first time they are being vaccinated against influenza. Children 9 years of age and older require only one dose, regardless of prior vaccination history. Also, pregnant women can get a flu shot at any point during pregnancy.