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    Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

    Flu Vaccines for Children Under 2

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    Although the flu is rarely serious in healthy adults, it can be much more dangerous in children. Little ones are two to three times more likely to get it. Vaccines for children are a simple and safe way to keep your family healthy.

    Flu Symptoms in Children

    Several strains of influenza virus cause the flu. The types vary from year to year.

    Symptoms are pretty much the same no matter what the flu type. In children, these include:

    The flu itself isn't the only problem. If it weakens your child's immune system, she could get a bacterial infection. Young children are at higher risk of problems from the flu, which include:

    How Do the Vaccines Work?

    A flu shot is the best way to protect kids from the flu and problems that come along with it. There are two types of vaccines: one is given as a shot and the other as a spray that your child breathes in. You should only give the spray to kids over 2 who don’t have chronic medical conditions. That means kids under 2 should get the flu shot vaccine.

    The vaccine your child gets in a shot is made from dead influenza virus. It can't cause the flu. When your child’s immune system comes in contact with the vaccine, it creates special tools called antibodies that help it fight the virus. If she gets infected with the real flu later, her body will be ready to defend itself. If all goes well, her system will fight off the virus and she’ll never have symptoms.

    Vaccines don't always prevent the flu. Your child could a strain of the virus that the vaccine doesn't work against. But even in this happens, the shot should ease her symptoms.

    Flu shots for children don’t protect against all viruses. Your child can still get colds and other infections.

    Who Should Get the Shot, and When?

    Most people older than 6 months should get a yearly flu vaccine. Kids younger than 2 are more likely to have problems because of the flu than older kids and adults. Children should get the vaccine by October of each year. Flu season usually runs from November to May, with a peak in February.

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