When Should Children Start Getting Flu Shots?

Influenza is a problem we are likely all too familiar with, one which comes around this time of year annually. We know that the flu is particularly dangerous for young children and toddlers who have less natural immunity to disease. Luckily, we have access to vaccines, one of the most important tools available with which to fight disease. But when should children start getting flu shots?

When is it OK for children to start getting flu shots?

While the danger of seasonal influenza is variable according to the year, flu poses serious risk for young children at all times.

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The CDC estimates that, since the year 2010, those under the age of 5 have accounted for between 7,000 and 26,000 hospitalizations from influenza in the US. And since 2004, child mortality during the annual flu season has ranged from 37 to 188 cases. Of note, over 80% of those children were not fully vaccinated against influenza.

The CDC recommends that all children over the age of 6 months be vaccinated. In a four year study which analyzed the efficacy of the flu vaccine among children aged 1 to 15, rates of successful vaccination were 77% and higher for a particular, common strain of the seasonal flu.

Can children under 12 months get a flu shot?

Vaccines are safe for young children and are strongly recommended by the CDC for anyone over the age of 6 months. Since children 6 months and younger should not get flu shots, it’s recommended that parents – including breastfeeding mothers – and family get flu shots to help protect the baby.

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Are flu shots effective for toddlers?

Influenza is extremely dangerous for young children, and any action that can be taken to prevent its contraction is a good one. A vaccine will increase immunity substantially by producing antibodies against the virus before possible exposure.

During the 2019-2020 flu season, the flu shot was 29% effective. In the previous season, that number was closer to 38%. In the 2015-2016 season, the flu shot was 48% effective.

Children younger than 5 years are considered to be at a particularly high risk for complications from flu, including:

  • Inflammation of the brain and heart
  • Organ failure
  • Sepsis
  • Pneumonia
  • Other serious health related issues

What are common side effects of the flu shot in children?

Flu shots are made with inactivated genetic material from a virus so that the body can manufacture antibodies. This material cannot cause infection itself and does not affect other vaccines.

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All the same, there are some minor side effects associated with a flu vaccine, mainly swelling and redness associated with the injection.

Why do children need to get a flu vaccine every year?

The modern influenza vaccine is developed on an annual basis since influenza is subject to something called antigenic drift. This means that the genetic makeup of the virus changes such that its recognition by the human immune system is difficult, even if antibodies for a previous iteration of flu are present in the host.

The CDC is tasked with predicting the degree of antigenic drift so that vaccine manufacturers can create a relevant vaccine for the upcoming flu season.

Furthermore, there are several different strains of influenza. Therefore, the “active ingredients” of a flu vaccine will be genetic material from all strains of the flu predicted to be relevant in the upcoming flu season. Note that this genetic material is inactive and cannot cause infection itself.

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In-Home Flu Shots For Children And Families With Concierge MD

Here at Concierge MD, we give you the convenient option to have your flu shot in your home. Our licensed, medical professionals will come right to your door, vaccine in hand. Do not wait any longer to inoculate your body against this disease, and purchase a visit today.

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