Why do we need to give the flu vaccine to children?
Dr Nivin Emam, Specialist Paediatrician, Mediclinic Al Sufouh, says,
“There have been several flu outbreaks over the past few years that reached the pandemic levels, leading to the deaths of thousands of people worldwide. These outbreaks were due to the emergence of new strains of influenza viruses — often from the animals and birds — infecting people who had no immunity to these viruses.
If the child gets the flu, the vaccine will prevent him from getting severely ill or developing life-threatening complications.
“Infants and children, older adults, pregnant women and people who have certain health concerns such as asthma or other forms of lung disease are at a higher risk of developing flu-related complications. “The most effective way to prevent influenza is by getting the influenza vaccine. Using simple infection control measures such as handwashing also helps. If the child gets the flu, the vaccine will prevent him from getting severely ill or developing life-threatening complications.”
What viruses will the 2019-2020 flu vaccine protect against? When will this be available in the UAE?
Dr Reham Gamaleldine, Specialist Paediatrics, Medcare Women & Children Hospital, Dubai, says,
“Flu viruses are constantly changing and mutating. That’s why there is an updated vaccine every new season of the flu depending on the latest common strains found in the previous season. Flu vaccines protect against three or four circulating viruses, including the critical influenza strains such as H1N1 and H2N3.
Flu viruses are constantly changing and mutating. That’s why there is an updated vaccine every new season of the flu depending on the latest common strains found in the previous season.
“The vaccine will be available in the UAE later this month with six months expiry period. However, the exact timing of the arrival of the vaccine to medical facilities may vary across the country.
What are the side effects of the flu shot in children?
Dr Emam says,
“While the flu vaccine usually doesn’t causes any serious side effects, a child may get a mild fever, headache or body aches after getting the shot. They may also experience mild swelling, redness or soreness at the injection spot. These issues, however, go away within a day or two. In very rare cases, a child may develop allergic reactions.”
What is the recommended age for the flu shot?
Dr Rouba Manachi, Specialist paediatrician, Prime Hospital
“According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all persons aged six months and older can get the annual flu vaccination with rare exceptions. People who cannot get the flu shot are children younger than six months and individuals with severe, life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccine or any ingredient(s) in the vaccine.”
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all persons aged six months and older can get the annual flu vaccination with rare exceptions.
When is the best time to administer a flu shot?
Dr Emam says,
“Get the child vaccinated before the start of winter or as soon as the vaccine is available in your area. CDC recommends that people must get the vaccine by the end of October. Getting the vaccine later can also give the child protection from the disease.”
My son got the last flu shot earlier this year. Does he still need the vaccine in September?
Dr Manachi says,
“Yes, he should get the flu shot again this month or by the end of October to build his immunity against the circulating flu strains for the 2019-20 influenza season.”
Why do some children need flu shots twice a year?
Dr Gamaleldine says,
“Some children from six months through eight years may need two doses of flu vaccine for the full protection. Children who are getting vaccinated for the first time will need two doses of flu vaccine, with a gap of at least four weeks between the two doses.”
Children often get cold and fever even after getting the flu vaccine. Does this mean that the vaccine is ineffective?
Dr Manachi says,
“The vaccine can be up to 90 per cent effective in preventing the flu. Even in cases, where the vaccine cannot completely prevent the flu, it may lessen the severity of the illness as well as the risks of serious complications. Common cold produces flu-like symptoms. So while you may think your child has the flu, he actually doesn’t.”