In recent years, two vulnerable groups have shown they are more susceptible to severe flu: people over the age of 65 and children under the age of 5 years. Because of this, the government has allocated a flu vaccine for kids under the age of five, for free as part of the National Immunisation Program.
Who Should Be Vaccinated Against The Flu?
Medical practitioners agree that the vaccine is effective and that every child should be immunised against the flu, to prevent its spread, to prevent unnecessary illness and complications and to lessen the effects of the symptoms in children who do contract the virus.
Another one of the flu vaccine benefits is that it also provides herd immunity to children who cannot be vaccinated themselves. They rely on the herd immunity of the kids around them to protect them against the virus. Examples of children who are at higher risk include
- Kids with asthma
- Children with cancer
- Kids with compromised immune system
- Children suffering from chronic illnesses and metabolic disorders.
Why Should Your Child Be Vaccinated Against The Flu?
Children contract and pass on the flu virus more readily than all other age groups. In addition to this, thousands of children in Australia have to be hospitalised to treat the effects of influenza every year.
Around 50 to 60% of children who are vaccinated against the flu are protected against contracting the virus. The vaccine protects against four strains of the virus.
What Is The Recommended Vaccination Program For Kids?
In order to develop strong immunity, children between the ages of six months and five years should have two doses of the flu vaccine in their first year of being inoculated. There should be a minimum of four weeks between each dose. After this, your child will only need one dose of the vaccine every year.
In order to promote herd immunity in your household, it is recommended that all family members be vaccinated to protect your children fully.
Flu Vaccines And Pregnancy
Even if you did receive a flu shot when you were pregnant, as is recommended, you will still need to have your baby vaccinated from six months onwards. While some of the antibodies you created will be passed to your baby, and provide protection for a while, it does only last up to six months.
Is The Vaccine Safe For Young Children?
Local vaccines are regulated and monitored to ensure their safety for use by the public, including by vulnerable groups of people. There are also different types of vaccines available, for different age groups to ensure suitability. The vaccines are administered:
- To children over six months and younger than three years
- To children older than three years and under five years.
Can The Flu Vaccine Be Administered In Conjunction With Other Vaccines?
Yes, there is no reason to change or stop your vaccination schedule as the influenza vaccine can be administered alongside other childhood vaccinations.
Will My Child Experience Side Effects From The Vaccination?
It is not uncommon for children who have received the flu shot to experience mild side effects. It is important to note that your child cannot develop the flu as a result of the vaccine because it does not contain the live virus.
These are flu-like side effects and are typically very rare. They tend to involve:
- A slightly elevated temperature not exceeding 38.5 degrees centigrade
- Tiredness or drowsiness
- Muscular aches and pains
- Swelling or tenderness at the site of the injection
How can you treat the side effects of the vaccine?
These side effects should only last a few days if they do occur. Pain and mild fever can be managed with paracetamol and by cooling your child with a cold, damp cloth.
Persistent fevers or fevers over 38.5 degrees should be reported to your doctor immediately. Make sure your child stays well hydrated and rested and monitor his or her temperature on a regular basis.
In the event that your child does have a seizure following a high temperature, this must be reported and checked by your doctor immediately. Seizures usually last between 30 seconds and two minutes but whenever a child has a seizure, he or she must be evaluated by a medical professional.
How Common Are Side Effects From The Influenza Vaccine?
It is important to note that only 6% of the people who received the flu shot reported developing flu vaccine side effects in that year. Only 0.5% of people felt the need to report their side effects to their medical practitioner.
How Can You Get Your Child Vaccinated?
Most general practitioners offer an inoculation service. Super Health Chatswood Medical Centre is pleased to offer our patients a convenient vaccination service for children and the whole family.
Still have questions about the flu vaccine for kids or flu vaccine benefits? Contact our practice today to speak to a professional: (02) 9884 9300