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Influenza (flu) is a respiratory disease caused by a virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. It can be mild, but is sometimes severe and at times can lead to death. It is not the same as the “stomach flu.”
Flu symptoms include fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache, extreme tiredness, and body aches. These symptoms come on quickly and can be bad enough to keep you in bed for several days.
Yes. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get flu vaccine every year. Getting a flu shot (or nasal spray) helps protect your child from getting the flu and helps prevent them from passing it to people who can get very sick from flu – like babies, elderly people, and people who have chronic diseases.
Sometimes healthy people – including children – can have serious complications or die from the flu. That’s why it’s important to get vaccinated each year.
Children at risk for serious complications of the flu include:
It depends on your child’s age and whether they got flu vaccine this past year. If your child is 6 months through 8 years old, he or she may need two doses at least four weeks apart. Ask your doctor or clinic.
For best protection, flu vaccine is usually given in early fall before flu season starts. But you can get it anytime during flu season which is typically October through April.
Colds are generally less serious than the flu. With a cold, your may have a runny or stuffy nose, while the flu causes body aches, fever, and extreme fatigue. A cold won’t usually keep kids from their normal activities, but kids with the flu will often feel too sick to play. Unlike colds, flu can cause serious health problems like pneumonia, bacterial infections, and hospitalization.
There are now several types of flu vaccine available. Your health care provider will know what type of vaccine is best for your child. The most important thing is to get them vaccinated. Don’t wait for a specific type of flu vaccine to be available.
In most cases, a child with an egg allergy can be safely vaccinated. Children who experience only hives after eating eggs may be vaccinated with the flu shot. After vaccination, you will be asked to stay to be watched for 30 minutes.
A child who experiences more severe symptoms after eating eggs can also usually be vaccinated. These children should be vaccinated by a provider with experience managing allergic reactions. If your child has other allergies that could be related to an egg allergy but has never consumed eggs, tell your provider. Children with an egg allergy should not receive the nasal spray vaccine.