I always get a flu shot and wonder if I should also have my toddler and third grader vaccinated?
Answer: Infants and young children are especially susceptible to influenza. Each year nationwide, an average of 20,000 children under the age of five are hospitalized because of complications of influenza. It’s very important to protect children from this contagious disease and the most effective way to do that is through annual vaccination.
Another reason I recommend the vaccine is to help reduce the spread of the influenza virus. Most parents recognize that their children are primary carriers of infectious bugs due to exposure at day care or school. The annual flu vaccine helps reduce the chance of your youngster bringing the virus home to share after being exposed at preschool.
The Centers for Disease Control recommend that all children from six months of age up to age 19 be given the flu vaccine each year. It is also important to make sure members of their household and caregivers are vaccinated. This includes parents, grandparents, older siblings, nannies and daycare providers.
It is especially important for children with chronic health problems including asthma, diabetes or heart disease to be vaccinated against influenza.
Because flu viruses change from year to year, the vaccine is updated annually. If this is the first time your child under nine years of age will be vaccinated, two doses will be required approximately 30 days apart.
I strongly recommend getting the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available because it is safe and effective in protecting children from influenza and potentially serious complications. Check with your physician about special recommendations based on your children’s health and ages.