Your Child's Immunizations: To Get The Flu Shot Or Not?

Immunizations for children have become a source of major debate and controversy in recent years. The anti-immunization movement pushed some doctors back on their heels, trying to combat accusations about the potential effect vaccinations can have on children's health. However, in spite of all of the debating back and forth, one effect of immunizations is clear. They serve their purpose. The measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine had all but wiped out cases of these diseases, for example (until of course, some parents stopped vaccinating their children). So, that being established, you may wonder if optional immunizations such as the flu vaccine are right for your child. Here is what you should know about the flu vaccine before you make your final decision.

At What Age Is The Flu Vaccine Safe?

The flu vaccine does have age limits. If your child is 6 months old or younger, they should not be given the flu vaccine. Their immune system is not fully equipped to handle the vaccination process and the risks are simply too great to take a chance.

However, your young baby is still susceptible to catching the flu. Because of this, your family members and other caregivers, as well as other people who have regular contact with your baby, should be vaccinated against the flu. This will reduce the likelihood that your child will become infected.

Babies and children above 6 months are eligible for the flu vaccination.

What If My Child Has Allergies?

Some parents fear that because their children have allergies, they may have an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine. While allergic reactions to vaccinations are rare, they do occur sometimes. 

In the case of the flu immunization, your child should consult a physician if he or she is allergic to eggs. This particular immunization does have small amounts of egg protein in the formula which could cause adverse reactions in allergic patients.

Your child's doctor will be able to determine if the vaccine is safe for your child. They will also be able to administer the vaccine and monitor your child for any problems if you and the physician decide to go forward with the immunization.

Should Your Child Get The Nasal Spray Or The Shot?

The flu vaccine can be administered in two different ways, through a nasal spray or through traditional injection (a shot). Which method you choose for your child is up to you.

For young children (ages 2 to 8), the nasal spray version has been shown to be more effective than the shot by as much as 50 percent. It is also less traumatic for your child, especially if they are afraid of needles. 

However, if your child has the aforementioned egg allergy, they are not recommended to get the nasal spray version of the vaccine, and should instead go to the doctor's for a flu shot.

Children with asthma or some other chronic conditions or who take aspirin or antivirals regularly should also not get the nasal spray. So, before you choose the nasal spray option for your child, consult with your child's pediatrician to make sure they do not have any medical condition that precludes them from getting this version of the vaccine.  

Now that you know the facts about flu immunizations for children, you can better make your decision regarding this optional vaccine. Remember that whatever you decide, it is always best for your child to consult a licensed medical professional such as someone from Willow Oak Pediatrics