We hope you find the following information helpful in clarifying questions or concerns you may have regarding Influenza and the vaccines available to protect you from this illness. This year we will be offering only 1 form of Influenza vaccine: the flu shot (Fluzone).
Each year children enter our offices with a myriad of illnesses. Unfortunately, few of these illnesses are preventable, e.g. the common cold, ear infections, stomach bugs. However, during the winter months, there is one illness that predominates usually for about 8 weeks. This illness is Influenza (“flu”) and it is for the most part preventable. The symptoms of Influenza are similar to many other viruses that cause the common cold; however, the severity of the illness and the fatigue that accompany the other symptoms are what differentiate it. These symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, chills and muscle aches. Influenza can also cause more severe illness, especially in the very young, elderly or people who are deemed “high risk” individuals (people with heart or lung conditions). The most common complication is pneumonia. The risk of complications from the flu requiring hospitalization is high in children less than 2 years and so they are considered high risk. Therefore, it is extremely important that those children and their caregivers get vaccinated. Every year over 200,000 people are hospitalized for the flu and 36,000 people die from it.
In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) we recommend that all children age 6 months through 18 years be vaccinated against Influenza. Studies show that children are the primary source of spread of Influenza; therefore, if we vaccinate more children, not only will they be protected but their family and caregivers will be better protected as well. Furthermore, children are more likely to require medical care due to influenza or its complications than healthy adults.
This is an inactivated vaccine that is injected into a muscle. It is a killed virus and therefore can not cause influenza infection. This vaccine lasts about 1 year and contains the 3 strains of influenza that are predicted to circulate in the U.S. this flu season.
Doses: This vaccine is approved for children 6 months and older. Only 1 dose of vaccine is required for children 9 years and older. In children less than 9 years old who have never received any form of flu vaccine, 2 doses are recommended given 4 weeks apart. Two doses are also recommended if your child has only received 1 dose of any flu vaccine in the prior season. If your child has been vaccinated more than 1 season but only with 1 vaccine each of those seasons, he or she will still only need 1 vaccine.
Side Effects: The most common side effects are soreness at the injection site and fever (usually within 24 hours after vaccination). Fever is most common in children less than 2 years. Other less common side effects are tiredness, headache, muscle aches and chills.
Restrictions: Your child should not receive the Fluzone if he or she is allergic; if they have a moderate to severe febrile illness; or have a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
Cost: The cost for Fluzone is $50 for children less than 3 years old and $55 for children over 3 years. Most insurance companies cover this vaccine. Please check with your insurance company prior to scheduling the flu shot.
In light of recent reports about the ineffectiveness of Flumist in the 2015-2017 flu seasons, we will not be offering Flumist this year. The studies showed that getting Flumist did not have any statistically significant benefit at reducing the likelihood of preventing influenza infections. We know that it’s harder to talk a child into coming for flu vaccines if it’s a shot, as opposed to nose spray. However, we still recommend those who usually get Flumist, get the flu shot instead this year. If data support an equivalent or superior benefit compared to flu shots, we will recommend it. For now, we believe flu shots will be our best way of trying to prevent influenza illnesses.
The flu vaccine season is a very busy and somewhat stressful time for us. We are trying to vaccinate as many children as possible to keep everyone safe while balancing our supply and trying to be fair to all of our patients. For this reason, we offer our vaccine on a first come first serve basis. Also, we do not “save” second doses because it is better to have as many children vaccinated as possible. To maintain the most current information with regards to our supply of vaccine, we are asking that you schedule your appointment for Fluzone.
If you have questions you may call us prior to your appointment or we can answer your questions when you come in for the visit. We have also provided the CDC vaccine information sheets for your convenience. These sheets will answer the most common questions.
CDC Vaccine Information Sheets:
Flu Shot Vaccine Information Sheet