Flu Shot Recommendations
July 4, 2018
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released its new recommendations for parents and caregivers on what the best – and safest – flu vaccinations are for the upcoming 2018-2019 season. Last year was the most severe flu season the country has experienced since 2009; luckily, influenza vaccinations are one of the most effective ways to limit the flu.
Although the AAP recommends yearly influenza vaccinations for everyone (excluding individuals with vaccination-specific allergies or other medical reasons that prevent them from safely doing so), it is particularly critical to vaccinate children. Similarly to older individuals, kids are more vulnerable to serious flu-related medical complications, some of which can be fatal.
Dangerous Medical Complications from the Flu
The influenza virus affects a person’s upper and lower respiratory system, but also inflicts other serious side affects. Some of the most common symptoms – especially for children – are:
- High fever;
- Sore throat, sneezing, coughing and/or congestion;
- Headache, and:
- Body aches
Children with the flu virus are also especially prone to experiencing diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. These complications can lead to extreme dehydration, which often requires emergency medical care.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Recommendation
The AAP advises that families opt for what is known as the inactivated influenza vaccine, or IIV. Even though this year’s flu season is not yet upon us, it is important to know what vaccination option is best for children. Every year there are multiple strains of the virus that make people sick; AAP researchers believe that the IIV offers the most comprehensive protection against them. Although some families prefer the nasal spray version (also known as the live attenuated influenza vaccine, or LAIV4) because no injection is involved, data suggests that it fails to guard against some of the dangerous viral strains.
Depending on whether or not a child received an influenza vaccine in the past, the guidelines for giving more than one shot varies. Although the AAP strongly advises families to use the IIV, they also say that the LAIV4 nasal spray can be given as a “last resort”, noting that it sometimes increase a child’s risk for contracting the flu virus.
When can Children get Vaccinated?
The AAP recommends vaccinating healthy children who are 6-months-old or above. The academy has a solid record of reputable recommendations for parents and families, and for good reason: it is made up of more than 65,000 pediatric surgeons, primary care physicians and other types of pediatric specialists. If you are a parent or caregiver with more questions on how to best protect your child from serious flu-related complications, do not hesitate to speak with your pediatrician.
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