What parents need to know before scheduling their child’s flu shot appointment—here’s the most common influenza vaccine questions and answers.
When Should Your Child Get a Flu Shot?
With flu season upon us in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to reduce your risk for getting the flu. Most people should get vaccinated by the end of October, according to the CDC. Your child may need two doses of the vaccine (four weeks apart), if this is their first flu immunization. The CDC recommends starting the vaccination series earlier.
Does Your Baby Need a Flu Shot?
Infants over the age of six months should get the flu shot. Again, your baby’s first vaccination may include two shots — spaced one month apart. If you’re not sure if your infant can or should get this vaccination, talk to your family’s doctor. The doctor will help you to understand the pros and cons of infant flu vaccination.
Does Your Child Need a Flu Shot Every Year?
Unlike other childhood immunizations, the flu shot isn’t a one time and you’re done type of vaccine. The effectiveness of the flu shot decreases over the course of the winter and early spring months. One year from now, it won’t protect your child from the influenza virus.
Not only does the vaccine’s protection decrease, but different strains of the flu may strike next year. Each annual flu shot is made to protect the public against the most common strains of the virus (or the projected most common strains). This means your child will need a new shot each year.
How Quickly Will the Flu Shot Protect Your Child?
You made your child’s flu shot appointment for a Monday. Your child was exposed to the flu at school on Tuesday. Are they protected? While exposure doesn’t always equal illness, a recent vaccination isn’t likely to protect your child fully against the flu as the vaccine typically takes two weeks to work. Until that time, your child may still get sick.
How Can You Protect Your Child in the Two-Week Window?
Even though your child can get the flu in the two weeks after getting the shot, they don’t have to. You can take steps to protect your child and reduce the risk of illness. Keep your child away from anyone who has the flu or flu-like symptoms, make sure they wash their hands for at least 20 seconds (with soap and water) often, and wear a face mask or covering when necessary.
Can Your Child Get the Flu After Vaccination?
The flu shot is a highly effective vaccine. But this doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Even though the vaccine can reduce the risk of illness, your child can still get the flu after vaccination. The effectiveness of the vaccine depends on the annual immunization and the strains present in your area. If your child does get the flu, the vaccine may decrease the severity.
Will the Flu Shot Protect Your Child Against Other illnesses?
While the vaccine may protect your child against several strains of the flu, it won’t prevent other childhood viruses or bacterial infections.
Does your child need a flu shot? Contact Stellis Health for more information.