Flu Shots Urged for Young Children

Each fall, you hear that influenza threatens older adults and folks with chronic ailments.

Although the death rate from the flu peaks in those 65 and older, the rate of hospital stays is highest in another group—young children. One of every 100 flu patients younger than 2 winds up in the hospital.

In 2009 there was a new strain of Influenza virus called H1N1 (swine flu) that infected a number of children. Since this strain was not covered by the regular flu shot, children from 6 months to 24 years old had to get an additional shot. 

As of 2010, protection against H1N1 is included in the seasonal flu vaccine. That means most children can continue the traditional routine of having one flu vaccine to protect them against the major circulating flu viruses.

Make it yearly

Healthy children between the ages of 6 months and 59 months should be vaccinated each year against influenza, according to the CDC.

The CDC says children 8 years old and younger who are vaccinated for the first time should get two full doses of vaccine, one month apart. The CDC does not advise that infants younger than 6 months get the vaccine.

The nasal spray is not recommended for the 2017-2018 flu season. The CDC says the nasal spray did not seem to protect against the flu over the last several flu seasons.

OK for pregnant women

Doctors recommend flu shots for pregnant women who will be in their second or third trimester during flu season. Flu shots are OK for breastfeeding mothers.

Adults who are around a child under 6 months should be vaccinated against the flu so it doesn’t spread. Then, during the flu season, keep the infant home, away from crowds, children other than siblings, and public places.

A baby with the flu can run a temperature, sometimes as high as 105°F taken rectally. A fever of 106.5°F is a serious medical risk in itself.

In babies younger than 3 months, a fever above 100.4°F (38°C) rectal can be a sign of serious illness. If you have questions about the flu or your child's fever, call your doctor.

Online Medical Reviewer: Cunningham, Louise, RNDesrosiers, Florence MD

Date Last Reviewed: 4/2/2010

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