Children under the age of 2 are at a greater risk of severe flu complications. For children, the flu is more harmful than the typical cold. Millions of children get ill with the seasonal flu each year, thousands of children are hospitalized, and some die due to the flu. A flu shot provides the most significant protection against the flu and its potentially fatal effects and reduces the transmission of the virus to others. The flu shot has been proven to decrease flu infections, doctor visits, lost work and school days, and the risk of flu-related hospitalization and mortality in children. Flu shots for babies are as important as for older people. The flu shot can be given to children of 6 months and older.
Why are flu shots for babies necessary?
Flu can cause the following complications, so to combat these health issues, flu shots for babies are necessary:
- Pneumonia: an illness where the lungs get infected and inflamed
- Dehydration: when a child’s body loses too much water and salts, often because fluid losses are more significant 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.
Types of flu shots for babies
CDC advises annual influenza vaccinations for everyone 6 months and older throughout the current flu season. There are the following main types of flu shots for babies as given below:
i. Injectable influenza vaccinations (IIV4)
Injectable influenza vaccinations (IIV4) are authorized for use in children aged 6 months and up and are administered as an injection (with a needle). (Vaccine indications differ.)
ii. live inactivated influenza vaccination (LAIV4)
The live-inactivated influenza vaccination (LAIV4) is administered as a nasal spray to non-pregnant, healthy individuals aged 2 to 49. However, individuals with specific underlying medical problems should avoid getting the nasal spray flu shot.
When should children get a flu vaccine?
Children should be vaccinated every year for the highest flu protection as soon as it becomes available. Some babies need two doses. It is advised that such babies should get the first dosage as soon as the vaccine becomes available. The second dose must be administered at least four weeks following the first. However, getting vaccinated later may still protect you if flu viruses are still circulating even until January or later because it takes approximately two weeks for the body to produce antibodies against flu virus infection after vaccination. These antibodies aid in protecting the body against flu, resulting in fewer cases of infected cases. It is preferable to be vaccinated before influenza spreads in their neighborhood.
Why does my child need a flu vaccine every year?
Because flu viruses are continuously evolving, new shots are developed each year to protect against the most likely variants to cause infection. Furthermore, the flu vaccine’s protection fades off with time. Your child’s flu vaccination will protect them against the flu for the whole season, but they will need another vaccine for the most significant protection next flu season.
Availability of seasonal flu shots for babies
Seasonal flu shots for babies are widely accessible in doctor’s offices, primary care, and urgent care clinics, health departments, college health centers, pharmacies, community health clinics, and via employer-sponsored programs. You can have a seasonal flu shot from these locations even if you don’t have a primary care physician or doctor.
Benefits of flu shots for babies
The seasonal flu is a mild illness. But sometimes, the flu can be severe or even deadly. The flu:
- Is linked to severe infections like pneumonia
- Can make existing health problems worse (for example, long-term heart or lung disease)
- Can lead to hospitalization or death
So, the seasonal flu vaccination is updated every year to keep up with the three virus strains that research predicts will be the most prevalent throughout the next flu season. To remain safe, you must make sure to give flu shots to babies every year. The benefits of flu shots for babies are the following:
i. Flu Prevention
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu shot is the most beneficial method to avoid becoming ill with the flu infection.
ii. Feeling less sick
Even if your baby has been vaccinated, he may still catch the flu. If he has received the seasonal flu shot, his signs, and symptoms will be milder if he becomes ill.
iii. Lower risk of hospitalizations or complications for certain people
For babies at high risk of getting the flu, the flu vaccine in New York has been proven to reduce flu-related complications or hospitalizations.
iv. Community-based protection
When you protect your children against the flu with a seasonal flu shot, then you’re also protecting others who can’t be vaccinated. This is known as herd immunity, and it is essential.
What are the possible side effects of flu shots?
The side effects of flu shots for babies depend on the type of vaccine as given below.
i. Side effects of injectable influenza vaccinations (IIV4)
The flu shot, usually administered as an injection in the upper arm, contains dead flu viruses that do not cause illness. However, it may produce minor side effects such as:
- Injection site discomfort, redness, or swelling
- A low-intensity fever
ii. Side effects of live inactivated influenza vaccination (LAIV4)
The flu shot for nasal spray includes live flu viruses that have been weakened. As a result, minor flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, headache, vomiting, muscular pains, and fever are possible.
Flu shots for babies prevent many influenza complications such as pneumonia, dehydration, brain dysfunction, and sinus problems. These flu shots for babies are available in injectable and live inactivated forms. Flu shots should be gotten as soon as possible before the spread of the virus in the community. Flu shots for babies are available in one and two doses forms. The benefits of flu shots for babies are preventing flu, feeling less sick, reducing the risk of hospitalizations, and ensuring community protection. However, the flu shot can also cause some minor side effects such as Injection site discomfort, redness or swelling, fever, aches, headache, vomiting, and muscular pains. But these side effects are for some days but prevent us from infection the whole season.