Should kids get the flu vaccine?

get-your-flu-shot.shutterstock_41863411It’s that time of the year again, winter is just around the corner and you can hear the sniffles starting.

We thought it would be a good idea to do a question and answer blog post around the flu vaccine.

Q. What is the difference between a cold and influenza?

A. Both colds and influenza are caused by viruses. Unlike colds influenza can lead to pneumonia and even death in the very young, old or immunocompromised. I often tell patients if you have had influenza you will know about it, symptoms are often much worse.

Q. Will my child get sick in winter if they get immunised

A. The flu vaccine will only protect your children against the nasty influenza viruses. It will not however prevent your child getting a cold. There are countless viruses that are continually changing and formulating a vaccine for that is impractical.

Q. My child had the flu vaccine last year, should they get it this year?

A. Absolutely. Each year the virus’ change and the formulations are different. Not only that, immunity seems to wane around 6-9 months after vaccination.

Q. What are the side effects of having a flu vaccine?

A. Surprisingly the flu vaccine is very well tolerated. Most will feel nothing, others may experience some localised pain at the site of injection. A few patients may experience mild cold like symptoms the following day (e.g. fever and muscle aches)

Q. I am pregnant, can I have the flu vaccine?

A. Absolutely, in fact contracting influenza during pregnancy is associated with a scary mortality rate for your bub. Immunity will also pass to your bub and will cover them for around 6 month after birth

Q. What age can my kids begin having the flu vaccine?

A. Starting from 6 month, children can be vaccinated for influenza. We recommend that for the first year of vaccination, children receive two doses 4 weeks apart. If that sounds too much we feel that one vaccination will provide some coverage.

Q. How much does the flu vaccine cost?

A. Depending on your health status, the government subsides the flu vaccines for certain groups who are most at risk (e.g. pregnant women, asthmatic kids etc).

Your GP will let you know if you are eligible for a free flu vaccine or not. If you are not eligible, flu vaccines are cheap and will set you back around $15.

If you look around some clinics like ours will subsidise flu vaccines for everyone, meaning you pay nothing for the vaccine.

Q. My kid has an egg allergy can they be vaccinated?

A. This is a tough question to answer in a forum like this, it is best to have that discussion with your family doctor. Every child and situation is different.

Q. What strains of influenza are covered in this years vaccine?

A. The influenza vaccine for the Australian 2017 influenza season provides immunity against the following four viruses.

  • A (H1N1): an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09 like virus
  • A (H3N2): an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2) like virus
  • B: a B/Brisbane/60/2008 like virus
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013 like virus

Q. Should I vaccinate my child against the flu vaccine?

A. The Simple answer is yes especially if they have a risk factor such as asthma or they are immunocompromised. We encourage you to talk to your family doctor if you have any questions about the flu vaccine – the old adage prevention is better than cure could not be more true!

The advice provided on healthykid.com.au is of a general nature and in no way should replace your therapeutic relationship with your doctor

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