Once again it’s that time of year: cold and flu season.
Some schools may actually be offering the flu shot to their students. Of course, in order for the school kids flu shots to be administered, the school will require a parent's consent. For some of us, it may be a question of whether or not we should allow them to vaccinate our children.
Vaccinating American Kids for Flu
Flu season normally begins in December then continues well into March and sometimes even April. Most flu shots start to be offered in mid October, unless there is a shortage of vaccine available. This is the time when most clinics and pediatricians will start offering flu shots. Some schools could also be offering flu shots, which could be a great thing because these would be at no charge to the parent. But are kids school flu shot programs something you would want your child to be a part of? Perhaps you have reservations about letting your child get a flu shot.
Here are some things to keep in mind when debating whether your child will need to be vaccinated for the flu.
- The CDC recommends that all kids between the ages of 6 months to 18 years be vaccinated for the flu each year.
- If a child was born prematurely, has asthma or another health ailment that makes them easily susceptible to the flu, they should be vaccinated.
- Vaccination can not only protect a child, but their siblings as well.
- Going to school is like going to a germ factory. Young children don’t understand the basic things that adults do about not spreading germs such as covering their mouth when they cough, so getting a flu shot is a good way to protect them.
However, some of us may have an issue with having our children get a flu shot. Some of the concerns can be valid and could make us have qualms about allowing our children to be vaccinated for the flu virus. These common worries are easily addressed.
Common Flu Shot Concerns
- My child had a bad reaction to the flu vaccine the last time they were given it: This can happen in some cases, but keep in mind not all flu vaccines are the same and just because there was a reaction before there may not be one this time around.
- My child doesn’t like needles: The flu vaccine can also be administered in a nasal spray, but not everyone is going to have the nasal form on hand. Call your pediatrician's office ahead of time to see if the nasal spray version of the vaccine is available.
- My child has an egg allergy: This is definitely a genuine concern because the flu vaccine is created by using eggs. In this case, you might want to consult your pediatrician or talk to the school nurse where the flu shots are being done. Your child may not be a candidate to have the flu vaccine. However, this means it is even more important for those who interact with your child to be vaccinated so they won't expose her to the flu.
- My child develop Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS): GBS is a condition of the nervous system that causes weakness in the human muscles. Back in 1976, GBS was associated with vaccinations for the swine flu. However, since then studies have proven that only one in a million people who have been given the flu shot have actually contracted GBS. That's not to say this isn’t a legitimate concern, but the chances of a child developing serious or even life-threatening complications from the flu are far higher than those of contracting GBS.
There are genuine concerns about kids and the flu vaccine, However, there are also genuine concerns for not having your child vaccinated, so weigh all the facts carefully. The flu comes around once a year and it's up to us as parents to help keep our kids healthy during this time.