Children and Flu Vaccine
The The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual influenza (flu) vaccination for all persons 6 months of age and older, including children. Flu vaccination is especially important for children under 5 years and for children with high-risk medical conditions who can become very ill if they get the flu. Moreover, studies have shown that vaccinating children who attend daycare or school helps prevent them from bringing the flu home. In short, flu vaccination is good for both kids and their households.
Infants under 6 months are a special case. They are at particularly high risk from the flu, but current vaccines are not effective in this age group. So to help protect these kids, we strongly recommend that everyone who has close contact with them (e.g. family members and daycare workers) get vaccinated against the flu. Such “cocooning” builds a wall of protection around the baby. In addition, it is important for close contacts of children under 5 years of age or children of any age with high-risk medical conditions to also get the flu vaccine.
Flu vaccination usually starts in September or October and continues throughout the flu season (when people are getting the flu, generally considered to be November-April). If a child needs two flu vaccinations (see "Parents, please note" section below), it is better to start early since the two vaccinations need to be at least four weeks apart. PAMF pediatric patients may get their flu vaccinations in their primary care doctor’s office or at one of PAMF’s flu vaccine clinics.
The traditional "flu shot" is available to all patients over 6 months of age. The dose for people ages 6-35 months is 0.25 ml and for ages 36 months or older it is 0.5 ml. "FluMist," the nasal spray vaccine, is available to generally healthy, non-pregnant individuals 2-49 years of age. Last flu season (2014-2015), the CDC expressed a preference for FluMist over the flu shot in children 2-8 years of age, but this is no longer the case. Both vaccines are effective and CDC expresses no preference for one over the other.
Both standard-dose flu shot and FluMist will be quadrivalent again this year. This means that these vaccines contain four flu strains instead of three as in the past. An extra B strain has been added in an effort to broaden protection against type B flu since predicting which B strain will predominate in any given year is difficult. The excellent safety profile of the quadrivalent vaccine is similar to that of the older trivalent vaccine. We plan to offer preservative-free, latex-free, quadrivalent flu vaccine to almost all PAMF patients (two specialty vaccines used in adults are still trivalent).
Parents, please note: Children 6 months through 8 years of age will need two flu vaccinations (at least four weeks apart) UNLESS they had two or more flu vaccinations before 7/1/15. If they have had two or more flu vaccinations before 7/1/15, they only need one flu vaccination for 2015-2016. The first dose is to "prime" the child’s immune system and the second provides maximum protection. If two doses are necessary, it is important to get the first dose early (e.g. September or early October) since the second dose must be given at least four weeks later.
For more information on flu vaccine (including, indications, contraindications and adverse effects) see our FAQs About the Seasonal Flu Vaccine.
Last updated 8/2015
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