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Flu Vaccine Q&A:

Q:  Should my child receive a flu vaccine this year?


A:  The Center for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and our office do recommend that all children 6 months and older should be vaccinated against the flu every fall.  This advice is especially important for children at high risk for influenza complications, such as children below age 5, and any child with a chronic medical condition, such as asthma or diabetes. Please note that children with severe egg allergies should not receive either type of influenza vaccine, because the vaccine virus is grown in eggs.


Q:  What's the difference between the FluMist and the Flu Shot, and which one should my child get?


A:  The FluMist is a nasal spray version of the flu vaccine that is an alternative to the flu shot.  It should not be given to children who have asthma or who have wheezed from a viral infection within the past year, but it is a good alternative to the flu shot for healthy children ages 2 years or older.  In many flu seasons, the FluMist often provides slightly better protection against the flu compared to the shot.  Also, many children with a fear of needles greatly prefer the nasal spray to an injection.  Since it is a live, weakened version of the flu virus and is sprayed into the nose, some children do have minor side effects such as runny nose or mild fever for a day or two after the FluMist, but these side effects are not nearly as significant as actual influenza.  


Q:  Is it possible to get the flu from the flu vaccine?


A:  No.  Neither the flu shot nor the FluMist can actually cause influenza.  The side effects from the FluMist are described above, and the side effects from the flu shot, if any, are generally mild soreness at the site of injection, and occasionally mild fever for a day or two.


Q:  Does the flu vaccine contain the preservative thimerosal?


A:  No, all the formulations of flu vaccines that we have in our office are thimerosal-free.


Q:  Does my child need one dose or two doses of the flu vaccine this year?


A:  Most children will only need one dose of flu vaccine this season, but some children will need two doses to be fully protected.  Children 9 years of age or older will only need one dose.  Because the flu strains are the same as last year, children under age 9 who have had at least one dose of last year's flu vaccine, or who have received at least two doses of seasonal flu in their lifetime,  will only require one dose of this year's vaccine.  All other children under age 9 would require two doses, at least four weeks apart.  If you have questions about your child's specific needs, please contact our office.