Health & Science

There’s Great News This Year If Your Kids Don’t Like Getting Shots

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In years past there have been many flu vaccines available, but the the main options for protection against the flu involved getting a shot. A nasal spray vaccine existed, but even the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that it didn’t work as well, especially for kids aged 2 to 17, in the 2013 through 2016 flu seasons. As a result, it wasn’t recommended from 2016 through 2018.

For the 2019-2020 flu season, however, the nasal spray has been found to be just as effective as the flu shot, according to the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The spray, called FluMist, should still be avoided by:

  • People who have a severe allergy to eggs or other vaccine ingredients
  • Anyone who has had life-threatening reactions to flu vaccines
  • Children or teens taking aspirin or products containing aspirin
  • Children ages 2 through 4 with asthma, or a history of wheezing in the past 12 months. 

Every year, misconceptions spread about the safety of flu vaccines. Despite what you might have heard, flu vaccines cannot cause the flu. It’s never preferable to get the flu, rather than getting the vaccine; it’s a serious disease that can cause hospitalization or death, even in people who are otherwise healthy—but children are especially at risk. This year, an emergency room nurse named Beth Purkey spoke out in a viral Facebook post about the importance of getting the flu shot. She addressed five major misconceptions she encounters, both as a healthcare worker and as a concerned citizen of the Internet, where misinformation is frequently spread.

Welp, I went and did it. I read the comments on someone’s flu vaccine post and in the process lost 5,642 brain cells…

Posted by Beth Purkey on Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Flu vaccines are recommended starting at 6 months of age. Vaccinations for pregnant women have been shown to reduce the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection by up to 50 percent.

You’ll want to get your child vaccinated against this season’s flu as soon as possible. The flu season typically begins in October, and can last as late as May. It takes approximately two weeks for vaccination to take effect, as the antibodies build up in children’s systems. Some are forecasting a global shortage of the vaccine due to production shortages. You can use simple online tools to find out where to get a free or low cost flu vaccine near you.

Robyn is Editor-in-Chief at ParentsTogether and is co-author of several NYTimes bestselling anthologies. She lives in southern Michigan with her husband and five children.