Summer is almost over, and within a month, the new flu vaccine will be available. Millions of people wait until it is too late to get the flu vaccine and then complain that they developed a serious bout of flu and missed work or school.
This year, the CDC is recommending that all children in the US get the flu shot as soon as it becomes available, preferably before the end of October. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should opt for the flu shot and not the nasal mist. The effectiveness of the nasal mist is slightly weaker, and some children may fail to develop immunity to the flu virus.
The American Academy recommends that the flu shot can be administered to all children over the age of 6 months. The Academy has also warned that children should not go ‘trick or treating’ if they have not had a flu shot. Like every year, pediatricians and primary care providers will be offering both the flu shot and FluMist nasal spray for children. The flu shot consists of dead influenza virus strains, whereas the nasal spray only contains the weakened virus, and hence the immunity developed is slightly weak.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the flu shot as the first choice for children six months and older because, over the years, it has been shown to provide the most consistent protection against all strains of the flu virus. However, the spray can be administered if the child is afraid of needles, but it is the second best option.
The effectiveness of the flu shot is not 100%, and each year the effectiveness varies from 40-65%. But even when the flu shot is only 20% effective, it not only saves thousands of lives but is more cost effective. This is the first year that the FluMist will be available; in the past, the FluMist was not recommended as it was deemed to be very weak against some influenza strains.
For parents who are unsure about the flu shot or the spray, a discussion with the primary care provider is recommended. The CDC recommends one or the other for prevention of the flu. Last year, 179 children died from the flu and thousands more required admission because of the illness. The vast majority of children who died last year had not been vaccinated.
The current flu vaccine can significantly reduce the risk of a child from developing the severe symptoms as well as complications, like pneumonia. Last year the flu season was very severe, and it is believed this season may not be different.