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DO CHILDREN REALLY NEED A FLU SHOT?
We get this question a lot in our clinic; whether their children really need a flu shot. If they are generally healthy kids, why go through the hassle of getting another shot, right?
Well, unfortunately not only is this thinking wrong, but it could also potentially endanger your child. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of the flu every year.
Children younger than 5 years old especially those younger than 2– are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications. A flu vaccine offers the best defense against flu and its potentially serious consequences and can also reduce the spread of flu to others.
Getting vaccinated has been shown to reduce flu illnesses, doctor’s visits, missed work and school days, and reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalization and death in children.
Flu illness is more dangerous than the common cold for children. Each year, millions of children get sick with seasonal flu; thousands of children are hospitalized, and some children die from flu. Children commonly need medical care because of flu, especially children younger than 5 years old.
When Should Children get a Flu Vaccine?
- After 6months of age = It is given 2 doses (1 month apart) and subsequently yearly vaccine. But for age of 9 years and above, 1 dose of flu vaccine is sufficient and yearly vaccine.
How does Flu vaccine work?
- Basically it is killed vaccine ( inactivated vaccine) which is administered into the body and antibodies to be produced about 2 weeks after vaccination.
So how many types of Influenza Viruses?
- ABCD = commonly what we heard is influenza A and B Influenza C normally cause very mild illness and Influenza D do not infect human.
Our influenza vaccine covers how many types of strains?
- It covers 4 strains which 2 strains from Flu A and 2 strains from Flu B.
I heard there is northern or southern Hemisphere vaccine?
- Basically northern vaccine is produced in October and Southern vaccine is produced in april every year and it has different coverage of strains of influenza virus according to different seasons of influenza yearly.
So which Vaccine should I get?
- Don’t worry, Malaysia is the country that we said as Year round as influenza season occurs throughout the year, so we can use either southern vaccine or northern vaccine.
Why do I need to get Flu vaccine yearly?
- First, a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection
Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the viruses.
Is the Flu vaccine 100 % effective?
- As I mentioned earlier, it does not covered all types of influenza viruses
so you still can get influenza if you are infected with different strains.
Usually, a flu vaccination reduces the risk by 60%. In a bad year, the seasonal flu vaccine reduces the risk of flu illness by only 20% to 30% in the overall population.
Can I administered with other vaccine at the same day?
- Yes, as it is a killed vaccine, it is generally safe to inject with other type of vaccine at the same day.
Healthy habit to help prevent Flu
- Avoid close contact
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your mouth and nose
- Clean your hands
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protects against flu virus infection, it is best that people get vaccinated so they are protected before influenza begins spreading in their community.
- But in any case please feel free to drop by our clinic for an appointment and we can address your concerns and our recommendation according to your loved one's needs.
Dr Sum Wai Thean
PAEDIATRIC KPJ SEREMBAN SPECIAIST HOSPITAL
MBBS (Melaka Manipal), MRCPCH (UK), MEMBER OF ROYAL COLLEGE OF PAEDIATRICS AND CHILD HEALTH (UK)