Seems like flu season just ended.
It did. Last year, the flu season set a record as the longest-running in a decade, petering out around April, and led to record-breaking hospitalizations. But with flu season starting in October, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that early vaccination is vital for children.
”You won’t be fully protected for about two weeks after you get the shot,” said Dr. Jean Moorjani, a pediatrician at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital. “What I say to patients is to try and get your appointment by Halloween.”
In a policy update published this week in “Pediatrics,” the organization advised that children ages 6 months and older get a flu vaccination now to protect against the virus.
Some parents don’t see the urgency with more than half reporting in a recent survey that they believe the vaccination causes the flu.
Flu vaccine 2019-20 recommendations
- Healthy children should receive the shot no later than the end of October.
- Unlike last year, the organization says either the nasal spray or shot is acceptable.
- Pregnant women may receive the vaccine at any time during their pregnancy. Postpartum women are encouraged to get the vaccine before they are discharged from the hospital. Receiving the vaccine while breastfeeding is considered safe for the infant.
Is one shot enough?
For most every child, one shot is all he or she will need.
Children 6 months up to 8 years old may need two doses if they are receiving a flu vaccine for the first time or if a child has not received two doses before July 1, 2019, for any reason. The interval between the two doses should be at least four weeks. Doctors advise starting vaccination as soon as possible to finish both doses by the end of October.
Children ages 9 and older require only one dose, regardless of their vaccination history.
Moorjani said that even if we have another unusually long flu season, an early vaccine should protect against the strain of flu virus all season. Some vaccines are better “matches” to the flu than other years, which is why parents will see a low percentage of effectiveness in some years, she said.
“Even if it’s on the lower end, it’s not a reason to not get the vaccine,” Moorjani said. “You’re priming your body to fight should it get exposed. So I want people to know, yes, you can get the flu vaccine and be exposed to the flu and still get sick. But your body will be protected. You might get a fever of 100 or 101, not 105. And you’ll be sick three to five days, not seven.”
Children flu deaths and parent vaccine doubts
There were 129 children’s flu deaths in 2018-19. Of the 186 children’s flu deaths in 2017-18, about 80 percent of the children who died were not vaccinated.
Last year, a survey by the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital found that parents resist the flu vaccine because of beliefs at odds with the medical community.
The most shocking is that out of the 700 parents with children under the age of 18, more than 50 percent believed that their child could get the flu from the flu shot. Another third said the vaccine didn’t work.
Other findings included that 30 percent thought the flu shot is a conspiracy and 28 percent said the flu vaccine caused autism.
Moorjani said she tries to educate people on previous studies to assail fears about the flu vaccine.
Where can I find the flu vaccine?
For parents with pediatricians, they need to make an appointment, or some offices have drop-in availability on certain days.
There exists plenty other places to go receive the vaccine with a health care provider in a medical setting. Flu vaccines are covered by most insurance plans and vaccines can be received during pharmacy hours. Try these:
CDC Vaccine Finder
The CDC offers an online flu vaccine finder. Put in your ZIP code to find a listing of flu shot providers near you.
CVS Pharmacy’s Minute Clinic
The website is advertising that flu shots are now available with no appointment necessary.
Walgreens Healthcare Clinic
Find all the information about getting a flu shot and schedule an appointment.
Read more at usatoday.com.