Flu vaccines are a hot topic this time of year for parents everywhere. We asked Dr. Marty Baker, father and pediatrician at Charlotte Pediatric Clinic (part of Carolinas HealthCare System), to give us his thoughts on flu vaccines and kids. Read on to find out why he thinks flu vaccines are absolutely necessary!
What age can a child get a flu vaccine? A child can get a flu vaccine at 6 months old and older.
What are your thoughts on getting vaccinations at the new minute clinics all over town? Get it wherever you can. But be sure to check ahead of time, some pharmacies and retail clinics have age restrictions. And always wise to check with your primary care provider first. Often the easiest way to get your child’s flu shot is to ask for it at your child’s annual check up.
Is nasal as effective as the shot? At what age can you tell your child that they will not be getting a shot, but just a quick spray?
Yes, we believe the nasal spray is as effective as the shot. It is approved for children 2 years old and older, but cannot be given to children with chronic lung disease (asthma, cystic fibrosis, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, etc.). It is never a good idea to ‘promise’ no shot to children, because it is most important to get the vaccine one way or the other. If the mist is not available, get the injection.
What are risks if you don’t get your child vaccinated? How important is it that the entire family get vaccinated, mom & dad included? If a child isn’t vaccinated, there is a much greater chance of him or her contracting influenza, which is a potentially fatal virus. There is also a much greater chance of it spreading to close contacts, like family, friends, teachers, classmates, elderly relatives, and young infants, who cannot get the vaccine themselves.
You always hear about it’s the wrong strain? How do you know? It’s always an educated guess, year to year, but the people making those decisions are very, very smart. Bottom line – potential benefit is a saved life (lives), and potential risk is very, very low.
What are the predictions this year for flu season, is it as dangerous as the last one? Predictions are not usually helpful. But I’m not aware of any unusual, out of the ordinary, concerns this year.
Thank you, Dr. Baker!