Experts Urge Prompt Flu Vaccination for Children

Flu season is almost here. And according to a new report, experts say it’s best to make sure children are vaccinated by the end of October, or as soon as the flu shot is available. Frank Esper, M.D., explains.

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CLEVELAND – Flu season is almost here.

And according to a new report, experts say it’s best to make sure children are vaccinated by the end of October, or as soon as the flu shot is available.

According to Frank Esper, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, many parents think that their child doesn’t need to get a flu shot every year.

But he says ‘yes’ they do, because the strains of flu change every year.

“They change – completely new strains appear altogether, so that the last year’s vaccine doesn’t work very well,“ said Dr. Esper. “And that’s why they need to get vaccinated every year.” 

Dr. Esper said the flu is very dangerous – it’s one of the top infection-related deaths of children in the U.S.

He said that even if the flu doesn’t produce symptoms bad enough for a child to stay home from school, it doesn’t mean that child isn’t still able to transmit the virus to someone else that could get very sick.

Of all of the respiratory viruses that generally appear between November and April, the flu is the one that causes doctors the most concern.

Dr. Esper said it’s important for parents to also know that getting vaccinated against the flu does not protect a child from the hundreds of other viral infections that are spread during this time of year.

“They’re going to still get sick and so a lot of times people say, ‘I got the flu shot, but my child still got the flu,’ – probably not,” said Dr. Esper. “They probably got another one of those 100 unnamed viruses that have the same symptoms of fever and cough and runny nose.” 

Dr. Esper said it’s important to get children vaccinated sooner rather than later, because it takes the body up to four weeks to develop a proper immune response.

Parents should make sure that once the flu season starts, which is typically around November, that their child has built up their immunity. 

Dr. Esper said there are resources online where people can check how active the flu is in their area.

The entire report is available in the journal Pediatrics.

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