Do Children Need the Flu Shot?

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Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP
The flu vaccine is now recommended for everyone six months of age and older, and although for some individuals the flu may just be a mild illness where you have a high fever and aches and pains and coughing, sore throat for a week. So you still maybe out of school or work for a week and felt horrible, but for other individuals it can be much more serious and the CDC reports that 20,000 children under age five every year are hospitalized with complications of the flu. Now, as a pediatrician, I think that number is way too high. So, I recommend that all of my patients get the flu vaccine. And if you have an infant in the house under 6 months of age, you can help protect them by vaccinating everyone else around them. The flu vaccine can be given as a shot which is approved for everyone six months of age and older, or a FluMist, a nasal spray flu vaccine. The nasal spray flu vaccine can be given to healthy people aged 2 through 49, and I find that it's very popular in my practice. My boys love to get their nasal spray flu vaccine, because it's not a shot. Now that said, the nasal spray cannot be given to everyone. So, if you have a history of wheezing or asthma or a chronic medical disease or if you're pregnant, then you should get the shot instead of the Mist.