Vaccine for the 2018-2019 flu season is now arriving in physicians’ offices and other facilities that offer vaccine administration, and on September 3rd the AAP announced its policy statement on this year’s flu vaccine recommendations. We wanted to share the basic information to better educate parents about this important annual recommended immunization.
- Flu vaccine should be considered as essential for even healthy children, starting at six months, as serious complications can occur in even healthy children. It should be given when avaiable (now), but especially by late October.
- For the 2018-2019 flu season, the injectable form of flu vaccine is recommended as the primary choice. Although the nasal spray will be available, it is has been less effective in recent seasons and is expected to again be so this year.
- This year's quadravalent vaccine will contain components against different strains of A and B, as well as one B strain which was in last year's product.
- The number of doses depends on the child's age and vaccine history. Children up to eight years should receive two doses (separated by a month) if this is the first time being vaccinated. Only a single dose is necessary for kids nine and up, or for children up to eight years who have received at least two doses of vaccine before, even if not in the same season.
- All children with egg allergy can receive influenza vaccine without any addition precautions beyond those recommended for any vaccine. Egg allergy is not a contraindication for flue vaccine, nor does it require special consideration.
- Aniviral medications are often beneficial in the treatment and control in influenza, but are not a substitute for flu vaccination.
- Annual vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu. The vaccine works well, but its effectiveness varies from year to year, depending on how closely the particular flu virus in a community match the strains included in the vaccine. The CDC tracks vaccine effectiveness year to year, to better protect communities the following year.
- The most common side effects from the flu shot are pain and tenderness at the sit of injection. fever is also seen within 24 hours after administration in about 10 to 35% of kids younger than 2, much less often in older children and adults.
- Children can not get the flu from the shot. However, because the vaccines are made from killed or weakened viruses, mild systemic symptoms such as nausea, malaise, headace, muscle ahces, and chills can occur.
Our practice, and I am sure all others, welcome questions from parents in an efforts to maximize the number of families we can immunize. It is worth adding that vaccinating your children does not only protect them. By reducing the likelihood of coming down with influenza themselves, this also might prevent spread to babies too young to get the vaccine themselves (and who are at higher risk for more serious illness), and elderly people in whom the vaccine might not work as well.