Should My Child Get the Flu Shot?

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Getting any kind of shot, including the flu shot, is not fun for you or for your child. Shots hurt little kids, and it hurts you to see your child crying and in pain. You also might worry about your child getting some sort of reaction, such as getting the flu, after receiving the flu shot. But according to information from the government on the Flu.gov website, a flu shot cannot cause the flu. To ease your worries, learn about flu shots.


The Flu Shot

Getting the flu could be dangerous for a child, especially for one who is younger than 5 years old. More than 20,000 children in the United States who are younger than 5 years are hospitalized yearly because of flu complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most severe complications occur to children who are younger than 2 years old. Therefore, the CDC recommends that all children who are 6 months to 19 years get a seasonal flu shot because the flu vaccine is the best way to protect against the flu and its complications.

Children at Risk

Children who have the biggest risk for complications related to the flu are children who have asthma, heart disease or diabetes. All children younger than 5 years are at greater risk for complications as well. Unfortunately, flu complications are higher for infants than for any other age group, but children younger than 6 months cannot get the flu shot. The way to protect an infant is to have other household members or caregivers get the flu shot instead.

When to Get One

Your child can get a flu shot as soon as the vaccines become available, as early as September or October. Flu season is from November through April, with the greatest activity in January, according to the CDC. Each year the vaccine is different to keep up with the changing flu viruses. Therefore, the flu shot is only good for one year. If your child is allergic to eggs, ask your doctor first about the flu shot because ingredients for flu shots are grown inside eggs.

Reactions

You cannot get the flu from getting a flu shot. This misconception stems from the fact that influenza viruses are in the flu shot. However, these viruses are inactive, meaning they cannot cause infection. People test the vaccines first to make sure they are safe, according to Flu.gov. A common reaction your child may get from a flu shot is a sore arm and redness where the shot was given. It is rare to get a fever or muscle pain after the flu shot, but if that happens, it does so soon after the shot and lasts for one or two days.

Getting the Flu Anyway

Some children do get the flu even after getting the shot. This is because the child may have been exposed to the flu virus before getting the shot. It takes two weeks for the shot to take effect, so that was just unfortunate timing. Also, because many types of flu viruses exist, the vaccine may not cover every possible type, and your child could still get the flu. Even so, being vaccinated can lessen the severity of the illness.

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