Parents are encouraged to get their children and themselves vaccinated to prevent influenza. Now is the time to get vaccinated since flu season might begin as early as October and can last through May.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends seasonal vaccination for all individuals, including all children and adolescents, aged ≥ 6 months during the 2012-13 influenza season. It’s important to get vaccinated each year because the vaccine is updated to help prevent infection among the most common circulating flu strains; additionally, the protective effects of the vaccine lessen overtime. Getting vaccinated will also help prevent infection among infants younger than 6 months and others who are ineligible to get vaccinated.
Vaccination is important for all children and adults but it is especially important for certain people who have a higher risk of medical complications if they acquire influenza or who are in close contact with these high risk people, including the following groups:
- Children younger than 5 years of age, and children of any age with a long-term health condition like asthma, diabetes or disorders of the brain or nervous system. These children are at higher risk of serious flu complications (like pneumonia). For the complete list of those at high risk, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm. The flu can make some medical conditions worse, and can increase the risk of serious complications.
- Adults who meet any of the following criteria:
- Are close contacts of, or live with, children younger than 5 years old.
- Are out-of-home caregivers (nannies, daycare providers, etc.) of children younger than 5 years old.
- Live with or have other close contact with children of any age with a chronic health problem (asthma, diabetes, etc.).
- Are health care workers
It is important to get vaccinated to help prevent the spread of influenza which is a dangerous and unpredictable disease sometimes leading to hospitalization or, in rare cases, even death. Every year in the United States, even healthy children are hospitalized or die from flu complications. Annual vaccination is safe and effective in preventing influenza.
Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse about getting a flu vaccine.