Flu Shot Season Weeks Away

By: Erica Hurtt
By: Erica Hurtt

Flu season is just around the corner and health officials are recommending some new guidelines parents should know about.

Flu shots are often recommended for children because they can face serious complications from influenza. Now health experts say even infants need flu shots.

Alyssa Giardano has never had a flu shot, but after a serious bout with influenza earlier this year, her mom said a flu shot is a priority.

"I never have in the past, but she got the flu and was in the hospital because she was so dehydrated, so definitely this year," Shelly Giardano, Alyssa’s mother, said.

Health officials said children less than nine years of age need two flu shots to boost their immunity, which means more doctors’ visits and shots for kids.

"I’d rather have one little shot than her end up in the hospital again," Giardano said.

And now for the first time, the Centers for Disease Control is recommending that infants six to 24 months also get a flu shot.

"I think some kids are going to get vaccinated that way. I know the health department is making it available but I don't think it will be a huge aggressive campaign yet," said Dr. Eric Henley of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford.

Doctors said if you plan to get a flu shot, you should get one in October or November. Doctors said kids under nine who've already had a flu shot will only need one shot.

It’s still early, but most local healthcare providers said they don't expect a flu shot shortage like we experienced last year. They say production was boosted so much last fall that there was a large surplus.

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Influenza Vaccine

  • Much of the illness and death caused by influenza can be prevented by annual influenza vaccination.

  • Influenza vaccine is specifically recommended for people who are at high risk for developing serious complications as a result of influenza infection.

  • These high-risk groups are:
    • All people age 65 and older.
    • People of any age with chronic diseases of the heart, lungs or kidneys, diabetes, immunosuppression, or severe forms of anemia.
    • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities housing patients of any age.
    • Women who will be more then three months pregnant during influenza season.
    • Children and teenagers who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who may therefore be at risk for developing Reye syndrome after an influenza virus infection.

  • Overall vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year, depending upon the degree of similarity between the influenza virus strains included in the vaccine and the strain or strains that circulate during the influenza season.

  • Influenza vaccine produced in the United States cannot cause influenza.

  • The only type of influenza vaccine that has been licensed in the United States is made from killed influenza viruses, which cannot cause infection.

When to receive the influenza vaccine

  • In the United States, influenza usually occurs from about November until April, with activity peaking between late December and early March.

  • The optimal time for vaccination of persons at high risk for influenza-related medical complications is during October through November.

  • It takes about 1 to 2 weeks after vaccination for antibody against influenza to develop and provide protection.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/fluvac.htm ( The Center for Disease Control Vaccine Information Web site)

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