Labor Day marked the unofficial end of summer. While many families have their eye on back-to-school and fall activities, public health institutions and professional health associations have their eye on flu season. After all, the 2017-2018 flu season was particularly brutal. This is why it is a good idea to start preparing for flu season. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have recently released their 2018-2019 flu vaccination recommendations.
Fall and winter are when the flu virus thrives… and no one wants to get sick! Children under the age of 5 are at increased risk and so are pregnant women when compared to healthy women who are not pregnant. The annual flu vaccine is the best defense against the flu virus and any complications.
In their updated recommendations, the AAP recommends that all children aged 6 months and older receive a flu shot. They suggest the injectable form of the vaccine for pediatricians to use because it provides the most consistent protection. The also discuss the nasal spray vaccine as an appropriate second choice for children aged 2 and older (if the injectable shot is not available or if the child refuses the flu shot). Parents of children with egg allergies – don’t worry! Children can receive the flu shot with no extra precautions than they would for any other vaccine. If you have questions about this, ask your pediatrician.
Children under 6 months cannot receive the flu shot, so they are especially vulnerable to illness. By getting vaccinated for the flu, family members and caregivers are less likely to get the flu and then less likely spread it to children. At Burdett Birth Center, we offer the flu shot to staff and recommend family members make appointments to be vaccinated before the birth of new babies. We also recommend that parents contact their children’s childcare facilities to request all staff be immunized, if they haven’t been already.
Women who are pregnant can safely get an injected flu shot during any trimester of their pregnancy to protect themselves and their babies from the flu. Also, the AAP says that postpartum women who have not received the flu shot during pregnancy can (and should) receive the flu vaccination before leaving the hospital. Flu vaccinations are safe during breastfeeding for both mom and baby.
It’s definitely better to get vaccinated before the flu starts spreading. Both the CDC and AAP recommend that you get the flu vaccine by the end of October, though it is never too late to get vaccinated to protect yourself (and your family) throughout fall and into the winter months.
For more information, please consult your provider and child’s pediatrician about the availability of 2018-2019 flu vaccinations. We also have more information on flu prevention and cold prevention as we head into the fall and winter months.