The Facts About the Flu Shot — Is It Safe for Kids?
December 02, 2019
Category: Flu Shot
Some people think the flu is just a really bad cold, but the influenza virus is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death. Influenza is a respiratory illness, not a stomach bug, although sometimes it can make children feel sick to their stomach.
Every flu season is different, and the flu can affect people differently. An annual flu vaccine is the best way to help protect yourself. Vaccinations are proven to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and the risk of flu-related death in children. Children under two have a higher risk of hospitalization for influenza.
The flu vaccine is safe and highly recommended for pregnant and nursing mothers. Influenza can have serious consequences for pregnant women and their unborn children. Immunization is recommended for both the mother’s health and the baby’s in its first six months of life, when they are at the highest risk of disease.
Many people think that getting the flu shot can give you the flu — false. The vaccine will not give you the flu. It is made from an inactivated virus that cannot transmit infection. Anyone who becomes ill after receiving a flu vaccine was going to get sick anyway. Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are used to make the vaccine.
Any exposure to the virus in one’s environment before getting the shot, is what can make someone sick, not the vaccine itself. People often mistakenly assume because they came down with the flu soon after getting the shot, the vaccine caused it.
Some people may have temporary flu-like symptoms after getting the vaccine, especially those who receive the flu shot for the first time. These symptoms are a result of your immune system recognizing the vaccine and responding to it — what is called an “immune response,” not an actual illness. The “immune response” symptoms usually last no more than a day or two and can include a mild fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. Children may develop higher body temperatures than adults after having a flu shot, but it is not dangerous, and it is not the flu.
You should get a flu vaccine before flu viruses begins spreading in your community, since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu. The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. However, getting vaccinated later in the season, into January or later, can still be beneficial. Children who need two doses of the vaccine should start the vaccination process sooner, because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.
Call us today to schedule your flu shot.
We understand that it can be difficult to filter through and decipher what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to flu vaccines. Your doctors at Children’s Medical Center are here to help you and clear up any misconceptions. Call us today to schedule your child’s flu shot or to help answer any questions you may have.