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Why Do Kids Need Flu Shots?

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Updated August 02, 2010

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Why Do Kids Need Flu Shots?

A young by gets a shot

Photo © CDC/PHIL
Question: Why Do Kids Need Flu Shots?
Kids and flu shots typically go together like oil and water. But is it really necessary to make sure your kids get flu shots every year? Are they really worth it?
Answer:

Flu shots are actually very important for kids. As an age group, kids are the most likely to spread the flu to other people. Ensuring that they are vaccinated is extremely important to cut down on the spread of the disease.

Flu vaccines - both the shots and the nasal spray - are the most effective way to prevent kids from getting the flu. Do you know which one is right for your kids?

Traditional Flu Shots

  • Recommended for anyone over 6 months old.
  • Kids under 9 years old who have never had a flu vaccine before will need two doses at least 4 weeks apart.
  • Children should not get flu shots if they have had a severe allergic reaction to eggs or any of the ingredients in the flu shot, have ever had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine or have a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine (FluMist)

Recommended for use by healthy children and adults between the ages of 2 and 49.

Children between the ages of 2 and 9 who have never had a flu vaccine before will need two doses of the vaccine at least 4 weeks apart.

Those who should not get the nasal spray flu vaccine include:

  • Anyone with asthma or a history of wheezing in the past year as well as children under 5 years of age who have recurrent wheezing.
  • Children or adolescents taking aspirin (because of the risk of Reye Syndrome).
  • Anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction to eggs, any of the ingredients in the vaccine or has had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past.
  • Anyone with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Anyone with significant chronic illness or weakened immune system
  • Caregivers for people with severely compromised immune systems
  • Pregnant women

Children under the age of 5 are at high risk for complications when they get the flu. Kids also spread the flu rapidly because they spend so much time in close proximity when they are at school and don't always have the best hygiene habits.

The flu can be a very dangerous disease for many kids. Flu shots are the best way to protect them. Even if your child is unable to get a flu shot, make sure you take steps to protect them from the flu this - and every - flu season.

Sources:

"The Nasal-Spray Flu Vaccine." Questions & Answers: Seasonal Influenza (Flu) 16 Jul 10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 27 Jul 10.

"Seasonal Flu Shot." Questions & Answers: Seasonal Influenza (Flu) 15 Jul 10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 27 Jul 10.

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  7. Flu Shots and Kids - Why Do Kids Need Flu Shots

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