Myths About The Flu Vaccine
There have long been myths and misconceptions about the flu shot, especially when it comes to young children and toddlers. One of the most common is that it causes the flu, an impossibility since the vaccine is not made with a live virus.
Even when the vaccine is delivered with the FluMist nasal spray , it is created from a weakened form of the virus which is unable to cause the flu.
The flu shot does not cause the flu. Side effects may occur, but they are rare and the risks of these side effects are outweighed by the benefits that this preventative measure provides.
Symptoms Vs Side Effects
If your child feels unwell after getting the flu vaccine, it is understandable to assume that it was related to the shot. However, it may just be a coincidence, especially if your child is in daycare or around other sick children.
It is important to differentiate this because some parents will attribute a symptom or illness to the flu shot and swear to never use it again. This would increase the risk of the child catching influenza and developing a serious complication. Before drawing a conclusion, ask yourself a few questions:
In the unlikely event your child has the same reaction year after year, then it is probably not a coincidence. You may need to avoid the flu shot and speak with your pediatrician about using FluMist as an alternative.
You should also report the reaction to the Vaccine Adverse Event Report System, a safety surveillance program managed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Who Should Get Vaccinated Against Influenza
Yearly influenza vaccination is recommended for people aged 6 months and over. Anyone who wants to protect themselves against influenza can talk to their immunisation provider about getting vaccinated.
The Australian Immunisation Handbook includes more information about specific groups who should get vaccinated against influenza.
The following people are more at risk of complications from influenza and are eligible for annual influenza vaccination free under the National Immunisation Program:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
- Children aged 6 months to under 5 years
- Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- People aged 65 years or over.
- People aged 6 months or over who have medical conditions that mean they have a higher risk of getting serious disease:
- cardiac disease
- haematological disorders
- children aged six months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy.
Children under nine years receiving their influenza vaccination for the first time require two doses of vaccine, spaced by a minimum of one month.
In some states and territories, influenza vaccines may also be provided for free to other people not listed above. Speak to your immunisation provider or contact your state or territory Department of Health to find out.
People who are not eligible for a free vaccine can purchase the vaccine from their immunisation provider.
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How The Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine Is Given
The vaccine is given as a spray squirted up each nostril. It’s quick and painless.
The vaccine will still work even if your child gets a runny nose, sneezes or blows their nose.
Your child will be given 2 doses if they’re under 9 years old and have both:
- a long-term health condition that means they’re more at risk from flu
- never had a flu vaccine before
These doses are given 4 weeks apart.
What Should I Tell My Doctor Or Immunisation Provider
If your child has any of the following, tell your doctor or immunisation provider:
- is unwell or has a temperature over 38.5 ºC
- has had a severe reaction following a previous vaccine
- has any severe allergies to other medication or substances
- has had any vaccine in the past month
- has had an injection of immunoglobulin or received any blood products or a whole blood transfusion within the past year
- was a preterm infant born less than 32 weeks gestation, or weighing less than 2kg at birth
- as a baby, has had an intussusception
- has a chronic illness
- has a bleeding disorder
- does not have a functioning spleen
- lives with someone with a disease or who is having treatment that causes lower immunity examples include leukaemia, cancer or human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , oral steroid medications, radiotherapy or chemotherapy
- has a disease which lowers immunity or is having treatment that causes low immunity
- identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person.
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What Is The Nip Schedule
The National Immunisation Program Schedule is a series of immunisations given at specific times throughout your life. The immunisations range from birth through to adulthood.
All vaccines listed in the NIP Schedule are free. Eligibility for free vaccines under the NIP is linked to eligibility for Medicare benefits.
To get the best possible protection, make sure you have your immunisations on time, every time. The NIP Schedule below shows which vaccines you should get and when.
This schedule card provides recommended vaccines and schedule points under the National Immunisation Program from 1 July 2020 .
What Can I Expect When Getting My Child Vaccinated
Before your child gets immunised is a great time to ask your health provider or vaccination service any questions you might have.
After your childs vaccination, your immunisation provider will send their vaccination details to the Australian Immunisation Register which collects vaccination information for all children, adolescents and adults in Australia.
It is recommended that you remain in the clinic with your child for at least 15 minutes after their immunisation to make sure there are no immediate side effects.
Some vaccines require more than one dose. See the immunisation schedule for details.
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Access To Family Assistance Payments And Childcare Immunisation Requirements
To access family assistance payments such as Family Tax Benefit and Child Care Subsidies children are required to be vaccinated against the diseases as per the age appropriate early childhood vaccination schedule.
Additionally, some states and territories may require a child to meet the immunisation requirements, or provide an immunisation record, to enrol in early education and care services.
Find more information: Immunisations for access to family assistance payments and early childhood services.
Sharing Knowledge About Immunisation
The Talking About Immunisation website answers parents questions about immunisation to help you make a decision for your family.
Which Children Need Flu Immunisation
All children from 6 months of age can benefit from flu immunisation. By immunising your child , especially if they go to preschool, creche or daycare, you can protect them and your family.
Flu immunisation is especially important for children with certain long-term health conditions. This is because these children are more likely to develop complications from the flu, such as chest infections. If your child does have a long-term condition, make sure they have their flu immunisation every year before the winter starts.
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Vaccination Is The Best Protection Against Flu
Note: See Frequently Asked Flu Questions 2021-2022 Influenza Season for flu and flu vaccine information specific to the current flu season.
The best way to prevent flu is with a flu vaccine. CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a seasonal flu vaccine each year, ideally by the end of October. Children can get vaccinated as soon as vaccine becomes availableeven if this is in July or August. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue throughout flu season, even in January or later. More information on flu vaccination timing is available below. Keep in mind that vaccination is especially important for certain people who are higher risk of developing serious flu complications or who are in close contact with higher risk persons. This includes children at higher risk of developing complications from flu illness, and adults who are close contacts of those children.
Flu vaccines are updated each season to protect against the four influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. This seasons vaccine has been updated from last seasons to better match circulating viruses.
Types of flu vaccines for children
During the current flu season, CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older with any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine.
What Vaccines Protect Against Flu
For the 2020-2021 flu season, CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older.
- Flu shots can be given to your child 6 months and older.
- The nasal spray vaccine can be given to people 2 through 49 years of age. However, certain people with underlying medical conditions should not get the nasal spray vaccine.
Your childs doctor will know which vaccines are right for your child.
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Can My Child Get The Flu Vaccine At The Same Time As Another Childhood Vaccine Including The Covid
Yes. It is safe to get the seasonal flu vaccine at the same time as any childhood vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccine. Many children are behind with their childhood vaccines or boosters because of the COVID-19 pandemic and getting the vaccines at the same time can help them catch up more quickly.
For children 5 to 11 years old, it may be best to wait at least 14 days between the COVID-19 and other vaccines. The reason for this is that if any side effects happen, doctors will know which vaccine they are related to. But only space out vaccines if you are sure that no other vaccines your child needs will be given late.
Im Pregnant Is It Safe To Get The Flu Shot
Yes, the flu shot is safe. Those who are pregnant should be immunized. Infants born during flu season to mothers who got a flu shot are usually protected against the flu for a few months. The flu shot is also safe and highly recommended for those breastfeeding. Since infants less than 6 months of age cannot get the flu shot , antibodies against the flu are transferred through breast milk.
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Can Preterm Babies Be Safely Vaccinated
Babies who are born preterm follow the same immunisation schedule as other children but require additional doses. This is based upon their actual birth date. Scientific evidence proves that healthy preterm babies respond well to full vaccine doses. If you have a sick or low weight preterm baby, talk to your immunisation provider about a modified schedule.
Flu Is Dangerous For 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.
- Complications from flu among children in this age group can include:
- Pneumonia: an illness where the lungs get infected and inflamed
- Dehydration: when a childs body loses too much water and salts, often because fluid losses are greater than from fluid intake)
- Worsening of long-term medical problems like heart disease or asthma
- Brain dysfunction such as encephalopathy
- Sinus problems and ear infections
- In rare cases, flu complications can lead to death.
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How Can I Help Prevent The Flu In My Child
The best way to prevent flu is to have the yearly flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is given as a shot . A nasal spray is not recommended for the 2017-2018 flu season. The CDC says this is because the nasal spray did not seem to protect against the flu over the last several flu seasons.
Each year, a new flu vaccine is available before the start of the flu season. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have questions about how vaccines work and how well they prevent flu. The first time a child between the ages of 6 months and 8 years gets a flu vaccine, he or she will need a second flu vaccine one month later.
The vaccine is advised for all children 6 months and older. But for some children, its more critical for them to get a flu shot. The flu shot should be given to any child who has any of these:
A long-term heart or lung condition
An endocrine disorder such as diabetes
A kidney or liver disorder
Weak immune system from HIV/AIDS or long-term steroids
A blood disorder such as sickle cell disease
A flu shot should also be given to:
A child who has a family member with a chronic health condition
A child or teen taking aspirin as long-term therapy
A child with parents or caregivers at high risk of complications from the flu
Some side effects of the vaccine can be like mild flu symptoms, but the vaccine does not cause the flu. Possible side effects of the flu vaccine include:
And you can help prevent your child spreading the flu to others if you:
How To Get Vaccinated Against Influenza
Influenza vaccines are given as an injection, usually in the upper arm. It is important to get the right vaccine for your age. Your immunisation provider can tell you which vaccine they will use for you or your child’s influenza immunisation.
Influenza vaccines available under the NIP for the 2022 season include:
- VaxiGrip Tetra
The Therapeutic Goods Administration website provides product information and consumer medicine information for each vaccine available.
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The Influenza Shot Can Cause Mild Side Effects In Children And Toddlers But They Shouldnt Deter Your Family From Getting Vaccinated Heres What Experts Have To Say
Nicole Harris is the Editor at Parents. She joined the team in 2018 as a staff writer and was promoted to SEO editor in 2021. She now covers everything from children’s health to parenting trends. Nicole joined the Parents team in 2018 as a Staff Writer and was promoted to SEO Editor in 2021. Her writing has appeared in Martha Stewart Weddings, Good Housekeeping, The Knot, BobVila.com, and other publications. A graduate of Syracuse University, Nicole currently lives in Queens, New York with her husband.
Influenza season has arrived, and it’s predicted to be as dangerous as ever. The flu has caused between 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 61,000 deaths each year since 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Anyone can experience severe cases of the flu, but children younger than 5 years old may be especially at risk for developing pneumonia, dehydration, and other complications.
Getting the flu shot is the best way to protect your family. The vaccine reduces your risk of flu illness by 40 to 60 percent, and it also decreases the severity of symptoms if you do happen to contract influenza. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated each yearand they say the benefits of the flu shot outweigh any potential side effects that may arise.
What Are Signs And Symptoms That Your Baby Has The Flu
Signs of a condition are things someone else can see or know about you, like you have a rash or youre coughing. Symptoms are things you feel yourself that others cant see, like having a sore throat or feeling dizzy. If your baby has any of these signs and symptoms of the flu, call his health care provider right away or take him to see his provider:
- Being very tired or sleepy
- Fever , chills or body shakes. Not everyone who has the flu has a fever.
- Headache, or muscle or body aches
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Vomiting or diarrhea
The flu often comes on quickly. Fever and most other signs and symptoms can last a week or longer. While your baby cant tell you how shes feeling, babies who have the flu often are sicker, fussier and seem more uncomfortable and unhappy than babies with a common cold. If you think your baby has the flu even if she got a flu vaccine, call her health care provider.
If your baby has any of these signs or symptoms, take her to a hospital emergency room:
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Things Parents Should Know About Flu Shots
- By Claire McCarthy, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire
We started giving flu shots at our practice last week, and it made me not just happy, but relieved. I know how bad influenza can be and I always feel better when we can start preventing it.
Every year, influenza sickens millions, hospitalizes hundreds of thousands, and kills tens of thousands. This is not your average common cold. While it is especially dangerous for anyone who already has a health problem , it can be dangerous for healthy people, too.
Even if you dont get that sick from the flu, aside from missing school or work there is the very real problem that influenza is very contagious and you can be contagious before you realize that you have the flu. That means you can spread it to others, some of whom may get very sick. Getting immunized helps keep everyone safe: its not just about you, its about everyone around you. This is especially true for children, who arent always great about washing their hands and tend to touch lots of things and people around them.
Here are a few things all parents should know about the flu vaccine:
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