The Flu Shot for Kids and Other Ways to Prevent Illness
Children are especially vulnerable to the flu because they are surrounded by a variety of germs at school or daycare. Many parents know the benefits of the flu shot for adults, but some don’t realize that it is also important for children to be immunized each year. Dr. Jeannine Hogg, medical director for Baptist Memorial Health Care’s Pediatric Hospitalist Program, shared information parents should know about the flu shot for kids.
Once your child is six months old, he can start getting the flu shot. “The first year they get the shot, they need two shots one month apart,” said Dr. Hogg. “Any other time they just need the same one shot that everyone else gets.” If your child is turning six or seven months right at the beginning of flu season, it is crucial to get them in early since they won’t be fully protected until after they receive the second shot.
The flu shot will not give a child the flu. In fact, there are no major risks unless your child is allergic to anything in the vaccine. “If your child has a bad reaction to the flu shot, you’ll want to speak with his doctor before getting it again,” said Dr. Hogg. “The doctor will be able to determine if there was an allergic reaction and what alternate options are available.”
In addition to getting the vaccine, parents can teach kids good habits to help them minimize their risk of getting the flu. “The most important thing you can teach your child is handwashing and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze,” said Dr. Hogg. “Proper handwashing is the biggest thing everyone can do to cut down on transmission of the flu.” While instilling these habits may be difficult for younger kids, reiterating their importance and taking the same steps yourself can help them learn. If your child does get sick during flu season, be sure to keep him out of school and away from other kids until he is no longer sick. This can prevent him from inadvertently spreading germs to others.
At home, you can also prevent the spread of germs by making sure that all frequently used surfaces are clean.