When Should My Child Get a Flu Shot?

October 25, 2020
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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At some point or another, most people have had experience with the flu. The fever, body aches, congestion, and fatigue are miserable. You feel like you have no energy to get anything done, so in addition to feeling unwell, it’s extremely disruptive of your daily routine. Therefore, when it comes to the possibility of it affecting your child, you want to do everything possible to prevent it from happening. What are the statistics of influenza in children? Should your child get the flu shot? And is there anything else you can do to decrease the likelihood of them getting it?

Influenza in Children

Influenza is a highly contagious infection of the respiratory system. In most children, symptoms usually last for about a week. However, in some children, it can lead to complications such as dehydration or pneumonia. And if your child has a pre-existing respiratory condition — such as asthma — it can significantly worsen. In rare instances, it could lead to encephalopathy or even death.

The virus is spread by airborne transmission, so your child could get infected by being in close contact with an affected person who sneezes or coughs near them. They could also get the virus by touching doorknobs or other infected surfaces touched by a person with the flu. That said, it could be hard to determine who may be sick enough to stay away from, since the virus is the most contagious 24 hours before a person starts having symptoms.

Flu Symptoms in Children

The severity of symptoms may vary greatly from one child to the next. However, the range includes:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

When is flu season?

The flu could occur at any time of the year. However, the peak times for the virus to spread is between October and February. Therefore, to increase the likelihood of staying healthy, it’s good practice to obtain a flu shot prior to the flu season starting — keeping in mind that it takes about two weeks for the antibodies in the vaccine to develop in the body.

Why are flu shots important for children?

The risk of complications is higher in children younger than five years of age. Therefore, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends vaccinating children who are six months of age or older.

There are different types of influenza vaccines — some requiring two doses, especially in children between six months of age to eight years old. For children who need two shots, the first one should be administered as early in the flu season as possible. The second one should be scheduled four weeks later. Speak with your child’s pediatrician about an appropriate schedule for your child to get their flu vaccine(s) so that they are protected prior to the start of the peak season.

Flu Prevention Tips

In addition to the flu vaccine, there are other actions you can take to keep your child healthy from influenza. These include:

  • Teaching your child to always cover their coughs with the crook of their elbow
  • Having your child wash their hands regularly
  • Avoiding people who are sick
  • Keeping your child at home if they feel sick
  • Cleaning frequently touched surfaces at home
  • Staying hydrated
  • Getting enough sleep — 12 hours for toddlers, 10 or 11 hours up to 12 years of age, and eight or nine hours for teenagers

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care in Florida

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.