With the rising push to get America vaccinated after the release of the COVID-19 vaccine, there has been some skepticism about vaccines in general, including the flu shot. For decades, the flu vaccine has been the first line of defense against contracting or spreading the flu virus. The flu shot is the greatest way to prevent your child from getting the flu, missing school, spreading it to others, and having negative side effects associated with contracting the flu. Knowing the importance of the vaccine is essential to understanding why it should be part of your child’s vaccine regime every year.
Timing is important
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that children 6 months and older receive the flu shot annually, ideally by mid-October. Timing is important, especially for those at high risk of developing severe symptoms or potential complications from contracting the flu. It is not a deal-breaker to get the vaccine after the fall, especially if the flu is on the upswing in your area past that time frame. You can get the vaccine until January or later without any negative implications as flu season generally peaks between December and February, but can extend into the springtime. If your child has not received the vaccine yet, there is still time to cover this flu season.
Yearly is the goal for this shot, as the vaccine is reviewed and updated (if necessary) on a yearly basis to protect against the most prominent strains of flu for the coming season as determined by the CDC.
If you’ve considered opting out of the annual flu shot, for your or your child, these potential symptoms may make you reconsider your stance.
The most common flu symptoms include:
- Sore Throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches
Many children also experience GI issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some instances, like that with COVID-19, some people may experience flu-like symptoms and respiratory discomfort without a fever.
You should seek medical treatment right away if your child experiences:
- Chest pain
- Blue lips or face
- Fevers over 104°
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe muscle pain
You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine
It is a popular myth that you can catch the flu from the flu vaccine. This is not true. The flu vaccine can sometimes contain fragments of a flu strain, but they are inactive and do not cause a person to become sick with the flu. If someone becomes ill from the vaccine it is due to a mild irritation or allergic reaction, which are extremely rare and typically occur within minutes to hours of receiving the vaccine. Another myth to take note of is that flu vaccines make you more susceptible to other respiratory illnesses. This is simply not true.
The flu is more dangerous than the common cold
The influenza virus that causes the flu is more powerful than the common cold. The flu is a highly contagious upper respiratory infection that spreads from one person to another by close contact, surfaces, and droplets in the air from coughing, sneezing, or talking. People can spread the flu up to 24 hours before showing symptoms and the vaccine is the most effective way to prevent your child from becoming infected.
The benefits of taking the flu vaccine far outweigh the risk of adverse reactions. We encourage you to vaccinate your children each season against influenza to keep them their safest and healthiest selves. To learn more about the flu vaccine, contact us.