New Recommendation for Children’s Flu Vaccine
The 2014-15 flu season has begun and pediatricians across the country are prepared to engage in battle. Estimates suggest that nearly 160 million people will receive the influenza vaccine and, surprisingly, many of those vaccinations won’t come from a needle. For the first time ever, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that certain children receive the flu vaccination in the form of a nasal spray.
A different kind of vaccine
The nasal spray flu vaccine (brand name: FluMist, generic term: live attenuated influenza vaccine [LAIV]) has been available in the United States since 2003. However, recent studies have prompted its renewed popularity. The research results show that the nasal spray method can prevent up to 50% more influenza cases than the traditional injectable vaccination in children between the ages of 2 and 8 years old.
The nasal spray flu vaccine is a quadrivalent vaccine, which means that it protects your child against four strains of influenza. The spray does contain a live version of influenza, but it has been substantially weakened and medical experts promise that the vaccine will not give your child the flu.
Recommendations from the CDC
The CDC specifically recommends that healthy children between the ages of 2 and 8 receive the nasal vaccine. However, if your doctor’s office does not have the FluMist vaccine or it is not immediately available, don’t wait to vaccinate your child. In that case, the CDC urges you to get your child the injectable vaccine as soon as possible.
There are a few reasons to avoid the nasal spray vaccine. If any of the following conditions apply to your child, be sure to discuss your specific vaccine options with your pediatrician.
- Weakened immune system
- Egg allergy
- Asthma or other breathing problems
- Taking aspirin
In addition, many doctors say that children under the age of 8 should get two doses of the flu vaccine in order to maximize disease protection. You’ll have to wait at least 28 days between doses, but the two vaccines can be any combination of the injectable or nasal spray vaccinations.
If you have children that aren’t between the ages of 2 and 8, the CDC guidelines are the same as they have been in previous years. They recommend injectable flu shots for children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years old. Children who are older than age 9 are equally protected by the injectable vaccine and the nasal spray vaccine.
October marks the beginning of flu season, so now is the time to get your child vaccinated. If they are between the ages of 2 and 8, call your pediatrician’s office or your local health department to see if they carry the FluMist vaccine. Let’s make sure our children are protected this season.
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