Immunizations are widely recognized as one of the highest achievements in public health advancements in modern times. Variolation techniques were used as early as the 1100s in places like Africa, Turkey, and Europe, but it wasn’t until the early 1900s that the U.S. began requiring the regulation of vaccine manufacturing. Of course, since that time, scientists have made substantial improvements, and the vaccines available today are known to be very safe and effective. Emergency pediatricians strongly recommend that parents and their kids get an annual flu shot to reduce the risk that urgent care will be needed for the flu later on.
Patients Who Need Flu Shots
The flu shot is safe for use in nearly every patient. It’s recommended for expecting mothers, for mothers who have recently given birth, and for most children. Unfortunately, the flu shot cannot be administered to infants younger than six months of age. These children rely on “herd immunity” to protect themselves. Herd immunity refers to the reduced risk of contracting an illness, due to the high percentage of people in the community who have been vaccinated. That’s one reason why it’s so crucial for everyone to get the flu shot if they’re able to do so. Pediatricians strongly recommend the flu shot for:
- All family members when children are in the household
- Daycare workers
- Tutors and coaches
Risks of Influenza
Millions of children contract the flu each year. Thousands of them have to be hospitalized for severe flu symptoms or complications, and some of them do not survive. Kids are more likely to suffer severe flu symptoms and complications if they have any of the following risk factors:
- Younger than five
- American Indian or Alaskan native heritage
- Long-term aspirin therapy
- Suppressed immune system
- Blood disorders
- Endocrine disorders (like diabetes)
- Heart disease
- Chronic lung disease
- Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions (including cerebral palsy)
Any chronic medical condition may raise a child’s risk of severe flu symptoms. Your pediatrician can give you more information.
If your little one does develop a respiratory infection this flu season, call Pediatrics After Hours at 972-355-2273. Our four urgent care facilities in the DFW area are available when your usual pediatric office is closed. In addition to flu treatments, our caring team offers prompt services for sports injuries, minor burns, and asthma.