The Flu And You Part 4: Should Your Child Get A Flu Shot?

By: Jessa Goddard
By: Jessa Goddard

Knoxville (WVLT) -- Children are among the groups most at risk for developing flu and subsequent complications.

There is now a growing body of medical research that indicates children are also the primary way flu is spread to others in a community.

But if you are considering getting your children vaccinated, there are some things you should know.

When Knox County Schools undertook the largest nasal spray flu vaccine program in the United States three years ago, it was met with mixed reaction, but three mild flu seasons later, public health officials say they have their proof.

"We know well that if you can massively immunize the children in a community, it's very much expected that the rates of adult influenza will go down," said Dr. Lori Patterson who specializes in pediatric infectious diseases.

Dr. Patterson says vaccination is the mainstay of flu prevention because there is no cure.

In children, the flu can be especially dangerous and even deadly.

Their symptoms usually begin two to three days after exposure to the virus, coming on quickly and attacking the upper respiratory system.

A high grade fever up to 104 degrees, chills, muscle aches, headaches, sore throat and dry cough are common.

Those symptoms usually last three to four days, but cough and fatigue can linger for two weeks after the fever has gone away.

New this year the FDA has approved a nasal spray vaccine for use by children as young as two.

Children less than two should still receive a flu shot but babies less than six months shouldn't be vaccinated at all.

"Because we can't protect them directly, what is even more important is that everyone around them be protected," Dr. Patterson said.

Children are two to three times more likely to get the flu than adults so getting children vaccinated is a simple way to keep them safe, and your entire family healthy.

FluMist is a good option for children, because there are no needles and there is also some evidence that it works better than traditional flu shots.

But it shouldn't be given to children who have asthma and just like regular flu shots, kids allergic to eggs can't take FluMist.

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