Flu season will shortly be upon us. This means that it is once again time to decide whether or not to arrange for your children to have their flu shots. This can be a necessarily unpleasant decision. For one thing, children hate shots and if they work as they are supposed to then the fuss of getting shots will be followed by a great deal of nothing much. But sometimes flu shots result in a case of the very same flu you were trying to avoid or another, messier flu entirely.
Every time you choose to vaccinate your children, you must decide whether the risk of disease is greater than the risk that the vaccination and the side effects it may represent. In the case of an MMR series, the choice may seem obvious, but in the case of a vaccine that changes yearly, like the flu vaccine the question becomes more complex.
According to the United States government and medical professionals, they should. Children are among the most vulnerable groups when it comes to the flu. Since the outbreak of recent and more severe strains of the disease like H1N1 it is believed that the more protection in place, the better. This works on an individual level by protecting your vaccinated child, but also on a societal level by reducing the overall incidence of the disease in the country—thereby protecting us all.
The flu is a nasty and dangerous disease particularly in childhood. The vaccine offers a relatively simple protection against the most dominant strains every year. It cannot protect your family against every form of flu, but it can dramatically reduce the chances of an outbreak among your children.
As a parent, you may be concerned about the potential dangers of vaccination. They are in the news more and more these days as pressure to vaccinate increases. Flu vaccines are designed to be as safe as possible and they are redesigned each year. There are some inevitable risks, but these are well known and avoidable. There are two types of flu vaccine available: the flu shot and the nasal spray. The first is made with killed and inactivated virus. This means that your child cannot contract the virus from the vaccine itself. It will trigger the antibodies to protect him or her however. The side effects of this vaccine are:
• Soreness, redness, or swelling at the site of the shot.
• Low-grade fever
The second vaccine uses live virus that has been deliberately weakened to provoke an immune reaction without actually causing illness or contagion. Side effects can include:
In both cases, however, the vaccine itself should not harm your child. There are a few exceptions though. If your child:
• Is allergic to chicken eggs
• Has had a severe reaction to flu vaccination
• Has developed Guillame-Barre Syndrome within six weeks of vaccination
• Is less than six months old
• Has a moderate to severe illness with fever
You should consult a doctor before getting your child vaccinated.