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Dr. Katie, Forever Freckled's pediatrician goes over why it is important to get your child the flu vaccine for 2018 flu season.

The Flu Shot…Is It Even Worth It?

The CDC is reporting higher than normal flu activity and more cases of influenza this flu season. And although February is typically peak flu season, the CDC estimates that the greatest incidence of flu this year will be earlier, in late January. With all the media focus on flu season this year, I have had a lot of parents reaching out wanting to know if a flu shot is even worth it this late in the season.  As a pediatrician I know the importance of protecting ourselves against influenza, but as a mother I dread the tears and drama from vaccinations. Of course, if we are going to put our children and ourselves through the stress of “the flu shot” we want to know, is it worth it?

It has been reported that the flu vaccine is only 30% effective against the flu, with such a low efficiency, is it even worth putting my child through a flu shot?I believe that some protection is better than no protection. Influenza is most dangerous for the younger population and the elderly.  There are many dangerous and even fatal complications from the influenza virus, so getting your child vaccinated is the best way to protect them from getting the flu, or to help lessen the severity of the flu symptoms.

Does the flu vaccine protect against H3N2? During the last flu seasons, it was determined that the flu vaccine’s effectiveness against the HEN2 strain was approximately 32%. The CDC believes this year’s vaccine will have comparable levels of effectiveness.

Is it to late to get the flu vaccine? NO! It takes an average of 2 weeks for the flu vaccine to become effective. Even though flu season is estimated to peak in late January, flu the season is not officially over until May . Getting your child vaccinate now, will help protect them against the flu season’s second peak in early spring.

Is there a vaccine in the form of a nasal spray? Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the nasal spray didn’t prevent cases of the flu between 2013 and 2016. Therefore, it is no longer recommended or available in the form of a nasal spray.

My child is allergic to eggs, can he still get the influenza vaccine? Health experts say that the amount of egg allergen in the vaccine is so tiny that it is safe even for kids with a severe egg allergy. I recommend that if your child has an egg allergy, you should get the flu shot in a doctor’s office with appropriate supervision, not at a supermarket, or drugstore.

5 Things You Should Know Before Getting Your Child The Flu Shot

1. Children under the age of 6 months can not get the flu shot, however they have the highest risk of complications if they get sick with the flu. So, if you have other children in the house that go to school, it is imperative you get them vaccinated to prevent them from giving it to your infant. In addition, research shows that infants get some protection from the flu if their mothers get a flu shot while they are pregnant.

2. If your child has never gotten the flu shot before and is under the age of 9, they are going to need to receive two separate shots of the vaccine.

3. If you going to go to your pediatrician to get the flu shot, call ahead and see if you can make a nursing appointment, or make your appointment the first available appointment of the day. I can’t tell you how many children go to the doctor to get their flu shot and catch something else while they are waiting to be seen.

4. Depending upon the vaccine you are giving, you are protected against 3 to 4 strains of the influenza virus. Therefore, although the vaccine lowers your chance of getting the virus and probably lessens the severity of the symptoms, it does not guarantee that you will not get the flu. If your child has gotten the flu shot, but still shows symptoms of the flu, have them evaluated by their pediatrician.

5. The injection itself can cause a lot of tenderness to the area where the shot was given.  You can lightly massage the area for an hour after the injection. It significantly decreases the pain to that area.  Also, don’t be too alarmed, your child might experience mild flu like symptoms after receiving the vaccination.

I hope this helps you with your journey. Please feel free to email us at foreverfreckledblog@gmail.com with any questions you have about the flu or flu vaccine. You may also find my article,  I think I have the flu, now what? helpful.

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