The Benefits of Flu Shots for Children

As summer officially ends, the air gets colder, and school is back in session, a new season begins.

No, it is not fall; it’s flu season.

With kids back in close quarters at school, the spread of viruses increases, and it’s not unusual for a bout of the influenza, or flu, virus to make its rounds. Not only will this take a toll on your child’s health (and possibly your own), but it can also lead to missed school and extracurricular activities.

Fortunately, it is possible to avoid taking part in flu season. A quick and easy flu shot at your local pediatrician’s office is a simple way to keep the flu at bay so your children can stay ahead in school and keep enjoying their favorite activities. Some parents are hesitant about the flu shot, though, largely due to myths and misinformation that gets passed around.

Here are the answers to some of the most common questions parents have about flu shots.

Are they safe?

Any vaccine carries a small risk of severe side effects, but for most people, the flu shot is safe. Most people experience no or very minimal side effects, and they suffer no adverse reactions.

In fact, because influenza can be dangerous in children (as it can lead to high fever, pneumonia, blood infection, and dehydration due to diarrhea), in most cases, you are increasing your child’s health and safety by having the flu shot administered.

There are, however, certain people for whom the flu shot may pose a serious health risk. Do not give your child the flu shot without consulting their doctor, especially if they have any life-threatening allergies, have Guillain-Barré Syndrome, or are currently ill.

Do they work?

A great deal of research has been conducted regarding the effectiveness of flu shots, and although results vary from year to year (due to variations in the virus strain), overall, the flu shot has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of contracting influenza. Recent research shows that flu shots reduce the risk of flu illness by 40-60%, a very significant result.

What are the side effects?

As with any vaccine, flu shots do come with some side effects. In most children, the side effects are very mild, but in some cases, the side effects may be more pronounced. The most common side effects include redness or soreness at the site of the injection, itching, tiredness or fatigue, irritated eyes, cough, fever, and aches.

Though your child likely won’t be happy with any amount of side effects, bear in mind that catching a full-blown influenza virus will be much more unpleasant and uncomfortable for them, and it will last much longer.

With flu season fast approaching, it’s time to consider getting flu shots for yourself and for your children. A temporary moment of discomfort at the clinic can lead to a healthier, happier, more active fall and winter. Give us a call at White Oak Pediatrics to book an appointment for your children’s flu shots today.