The flu can affect people of all ages, but children younger than 5 are at higher risk for developing serious complications. Children younger than 2 are at an even higher risk. The flu vaccine reduces your child’s chances of getting the flu, but it doesn’t mean he or she will not get it. Children who get the flu after getting their flu shots tend to have fewer symptoms or symptoms that are not as severe as children who do not get the flu shot.
What is the flu? The flu – or Influenza – is a virus that affects your breathing passages. It can affect the brain and entire body.
What are symptoms of the flu? Sore throat, fever (100-103°F), headache, cough, fatigue and muscle aches are some of the most common symptoms.
The flu is especially hard on vulnerable populations. Children younger than 5 years are vulnerable because their immune systems are still immature. Influenza killed 80,000 people in the U.S. in 2017, including 180 children. More than 20,000 kids were hospitalized.
How does the flu spread? The flu is spread two ways:
- By touch (a sick person touches his/her nose or mouth and then deposits the germs by touching a doorknob, restaurant menu or elevator button.
- Tiny droplets from sneezing, coughing, or talking can spread the flu.
When can infants get the flu shot? The Centers for Disease Control recommend a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. Some children 6 months through 8 years might need two doses for best protection. Ask your pediatrician about getting the flu shot for your child.
The main reason for infants to get the flu shot is to protect against complications. The immature immune system of children younger than 5 years means they can more easily develop complications from the flu, including:
- Pneumonia – an infection and inflammation of the lungs
- Dehydration – when a child loses more water and salt than he or she takes in
- Worsening of long-term medical problems (heart disease, asthma, etc.)
- Brain dysfunction such as encephalopathy
- Ear infections and sinus problems
- In some rare cases, flu complications can lead to death.
Pediatric Partners of Augusta advises that pregnant women and children 6 months or older get their annual flu shots as soon as possible. Contact your pediatrician for more information.
Pediatric Partners has three locations to better serve our patients. The Evans office is at 411 Town Park Blvd.; the downtown Augusta office is at 1303 D’Antignac St., Suite 2600; and the new Grovetown office is at 5135 Wrightsboro Road. For more information about Pediatric Partners, call the office at 706-854-2500, visit PedPartners.com, or follow the Pediatric Partners of Augusta Facebook page.