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Flu Shots for Kids: What You Need to Know

October 16, 2019

Flu season is here! And the Centers for Disease Control is predicting it will be among the most serious in recent years. It’s time to protect your family with flu shots. Dr. Hannah Renno, a general pediatrician with Arkansas Children’s Hospital, shares her advice on the topic.

 

Q: It’s so hard to make my children get shots. Why should I subject my child to yet another shot?

A: Vaccines are like seatbelts. We don’t wear seatbelts because we are planning to get in a car wreck. But just in case an accident happens, it is important to be as safe and protected as possible, to reduce injuries. The flu vaccine does a pretty good job at preventing people from getting the flu. But even if they still get infected with flu, the vaccine is VERY effective at preventing the life-threatening complications of flu.

People tend to underestimate the flu. They assume it just means a few days in bed with rest and fluids. And while this is true in many cases, the flu can be just as deadly in those who are strong and healthy as it is in people with weakened immune systems.

During every flu season, Arkansas Children's has hundreds of children test positive for influenza. Many of them have to stay in the hospital to recover. Some of those patients require intensive care and the use of assistive breathing technologies like ventilators and heart-lung bypass. It's a serious illness, and each of us has an obligation to those we love to help prevent it. I can't imagine anything more heartbreaking than losing a child to an illness like the flu, which could have been prevented.

 

Q: When should my family get flu shots?

A: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend everyone 6 months and older receive the vaccine by the end of October, when flu season begins to peak. Others who are especially vulnerable and need the vaccine include pregnant women, people over 50, people with any kind of chronic medical condition, those living in nursing homes and health care workers.

Infants and children up to 8 years of age who are taking the flu shot for the first time may need two doses of the vaccine, which are given four weeks apart. It’s especially important that these children get that first dose as soon as possible so they’re protected by both doses before the flu season hits its peak. However, it’s never too late! Having a flu shot in November or even December is still better than no flu shot at all.

 

Q: How and where can I get a flu shot?

A: There are lots of easy ways to get a flu vaccine this year:

  • Ask your child’s pediatrician or your primary care provider.
  • Visit a commercial retailer that offers the shot.
  • Watch for schedules from the Arkansas Department of Health, which will offer flu shot clinics across the state soon. 
  • Check for shot clinic schedules at your child’s school, also offered by the Department of Health.

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