September is here, and that means it’s almost flu season. In Nevada, influenza season starts around October and lasts until May, usually peaking sometime around January. That means now is the ideal time to schedule a flu shot for your child — and for you, too.
With practices in Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada, our team at Nevada Pediatric Specialists offers flu shots to kids beginning at 6 months old. If you’ve been on the fence about having your child vaccinated against the flu this year, we’ve put together this overview to help you understand how the vaccine works and why it’s so important to have a flu shot every year.
The right age for a flu shot
Childhood is a time for immunizations, helping your child build immunity against a range of serious and even life-threatening diseases. But unlike many childhood vaccines that are only given one or two times during childhood, flu shots need to be given every year in order to provide their protective benefits.
Like other viruses, influenza has many different strains. Every year, researchers work to determine which type or types of flu will likely be the most prevalent during the following flu season and develop that year’s vaccine to fight against those strains. That’s why every year, you need that latest vaccine to have the greatest immunity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu shot for every American beginning at age 6 months. To get full immunity, kids who’ve never had a flu vaccine or who’ve had only one previous dose may need two doses of the vaccine. Our team can determine if your child needs one or two shots to reduce their risk of getting the flu.
Why the flu shot is important
Getting sick with the flu might not seem like a big deal. But the flu can cause some very serious complications, especially in children, including:
- Pneumonia, often requiring hospitalization
- Ear infections
- Sinus infections
- Muscle inflammation
- Organ failure
- Brain disease
- Whole-body infection, called sepsis
- Worsening of other chronic medical problems
Every year, thousands of kids are hospitalized with flu and flu complications, and some of those children die as a result of their infection.
Some people worry that the flu shot will make their child sick, but that’s not the case. The flu shot doesn’t contain any live virus, so your child cannot become infected by getting immunized.
Your child might develop some mild aches or a low fever after receiving their shot. Those are normal signs that their immune system is kicking in, developing powerful antibodies to help them fight off flu germs before they can cause an infection. If your child does develop a low fever or mild aches, over-the-counter children’s pain relievers can help.
Schedule a flu shot now
To make sure your child gets the full benefits of their annual flu shot, the CDC recommends having the shot before the end of October. Even if your child can’t get the shot by that time, you should still schedule it as soon as you can to help them stay protected throughout flu season.
To find out more about the flu shot or to schedule a vaccine for your child, call Nevada Pediatric Specialists at 702-457-5437, or book an appointment online anytime.