Flu season is here and as a parent, you might be scrambling to find ways to keep your children protected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that receiving a flu shot is the best way to prevent you and your family from catching the flu. Here are five facts parents should know about the flu vaccine:
1. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older.
Children under the age of five can face higher risks of illness if affected by the flu, according to the CDC. “Right now, the flu shot is our best protection that we have against the flu,” Alex Novielli, Senior Manager of Pharmacy Operations at Walgreens, says. “The one thing that we know about flu season is that it’s always unpredictable. We never know when it may peak or how severe it can be.”
2. Use the flu shot instead of a nasal spray.
Your child can’t avoid needles anymore when it comes to the flu vaccine. The federal health committee decided that the nasal spray, FluMist, is no longer effective as a flu vaccine based on its performance in protecting people during the last few cold seasons, The New York Times reported. Everyone should get the shot now.
3. You can help other kids in need.
Five years ago, Walgreens began its Get a Shot, Give a Shot campaign with the United Nations Foundation. The campaign essentially donates life-changing vaccines for children in developing countries based on every flu shot and other immunizations administered at a Walgreens facility or health care clinic. “The collaboration was born out of a desire from both organizations to increase vaccine access and make a positive impact on communities across the world,” Novielli adds. “We have helped provide over 20 million life-saving vaccines in need since the initiation of this program.”
4. Children with egg allergies can still get the flu shot.
Patients with a history of egg allergies do not need to take special measures to receive their flu vaccine, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). While the vaccine does contain egg protein, the amount included does not affect egg-allergic patients based on a 2012 study conducted by AAP. “It generally depends on the type of allergy, however it’s very unlikely for an allergic reaction to develop from a flu shot,” Novielli says. “If a child has an egg allergy, they can safely get the flu shot from their pharmacist or pediatrician without going to an allergy specialist.”
5. It’s not too late to get the flu vaccine.
While it’s typically best to get vaccinated by the end of October, families shouldn’t steer away from getting a shot this year. Every flu season is different and some flu vaccines are offered until January (or even later), according to CDC. “We haven’t even begun the peak of our season,” Novielli adds. “It’s a good reminder that if you haven’t got protected already, it’s important to get protected as soon as possible.”