Flu Vaccination for Children
Has this question been going through your mind lately…
Should I get my child vaccinated against the flu?
I’ve just booked my children for an appointment to get their annual flu shot because, just like the chicken pox and measles virus, the flu virus can also be prevented. Unfortunately, the flu virus changes each year and hence we need a flu shot every year to protect us from the current flu virus spreading. Influenza is the leading cause of hospitalisation among Australian children under five years of age. Last year, one-third of all influenza cases were in children aged less than 15 years with the highest rates among children aged between 5 and 9.
So, why are our kids at higher risk? Suffering from the flu virus is not like suffering from the ‘common cold’. It can be much more serious and can lead to complications too. Flu symptoms tend to develop abruptly and can include: tiredness, high fever, chills, headache, coughing, sneezing, runny noses, poor appetite, muscle aches, vomiting and diarrhoea. Most children who get the flu will recover in less than two weeks. However, some kids can develop complications including pneumonia, bronchitis and neurological complications, such as seizures, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), confusion, disorientation or paralysis (can occur in up to 10% of hospitalised children.) Studies have shown that children who have died from complications have often been previously healthy.
Dr Margie Danchin, a paediatrician from the Royal Children’s hospital (Melbourne, Australia) states, “Flu can be a very severe illness and young kids are at higher risk. Nearly 1,500 kids are admitted to hospital for confirmed flu each year and healthy kids under five are the most likely age group to be hospitalised for complications related to flu.”
It’s also been shown that children are more likely to catch the flu than adults and it’s known that kids spread the flu more easily too. Vaccination experts recommend the flu vaccine for everyone over six months of age, however, the vaccine is only free under the National Immunisation Program for people at high risk of complications, including:
- Pregnant women
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 65 years and over
- People with certain medical conditions.
- People with some existing medical conditions are more likely to experience complications from the flu.
Free flu vaccinations are available for people aged six months and over who have:
- Heart disease
- Severe asthma
- Chronic lung condition
- Chronic illness requiring medical follow-up or hospitalisation in the past year
- Diseases of the nervous system
- Impaired immunity
The flu vaccine this year is quadrivalent, meaning it covers four different strains of the flu, which is an improvement to last years, which only covered 3 different strain types. The flu vaccine is currently available from your GP and just remember the very first time your child has the flu vaccine they need 2 doses, 1 month apart. The flu vaccine has already been given to millions of children around the world who have just been through their winter and has been tolerated very well and monitored closely with the main side effect being a mild fever (like all vaccines) in approximately 6-7% of kids under 10 and redness and swelling at the injection site in up to one in five kids.
So with flu season ahead of us, it is certainly is a good time to protect our little ones from the nasty flu virus.
Please feel free to leave comments on this blog and if there are any questions I am more than happy to answer them. Also, if you tried a remedy that worked well for your children that was, or wasn’t mentioned above, let me know. I hope this information does help.
Disclaimer – The material on this blog is only to be used for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before applying the methods, medicines, techniques or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein. The names of people mentioned in this blog have been changed to protect the real patient’s confidentiality.