You make your kids wear helmets when they ride their bikes or scooters. You feed them healthy and nutritious foods. You make them wear hats and gloves when they go outside in the winter. In other words, you do all you can to make your kids safe and healthy.
Ensuring they get their annual flu shot is part of the package. Flu shots are crucial in keeping your little ones healthy and resilient, especially during flu season, which runs fall through winter.
At Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center in Bel Air, Maryland, board-certified pediatrician Ugonma (Ugo) Harriet Okparaocha, MD, and her expert medical team provide flu shots and complete immunization services to keep children safe and healthy.
Understanding the flu
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness affecting your nose, throat, and lungs. Typical flu symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Muscle and body aches
In some cases, the flu can cause diarrhea and vomiting.
According to the CDC, children and teens are more likely to get flu symptoms than adults, and children under the age of five are at a higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications such as pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions.
The benefits of flu shots for kids
Some ways to protect your children from getting the flu include good hand hygiene, staying away from sick people, and ensuring they get enough rest and a healthy diet to boost their immune systems. But a yearly flu vaccine is the best way to protect your children from getting the flu.
Every child six months and older should get the flu shot yearly. Each year, the flu shot is formulated to protect against the specific strains of influenza virus expected to circulate during the season. A vaccine won’t entirely prevent the flu but significantly reduces your child’s risk of contracting it.
Additionally, flu shots also lower the chances of severe complications that can arise from the infection. And a shot can reduce the severity of symptoms and length of illness.
Finally, getting your child vaccinated against the flu helps boost herd immunity. When a significant portion of the population is vaccinated, it creates a phenomenon known as herd immunity. It indirectly protects children who are unable to receive the vaccine, such as infants under six months or children with certain medical conditions, by reducing the overall spread of the virus.
The best time to get the flu shot is before the season hits in late October. However, it’s never too late to vaccinate your child against the flu. Schedule an appointment for your child’s flu shot by calling Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center or request one online.