Everything You Need to Know About Flu Shots for Children

Flu is an illness that is not very easily detected among children as its symptoms are often confused with a cold. However, flu tends to develop faster and get more intense than a simple cold. Here’s everything you need to know about getting flu shots for children.

Influenza (flu) is an infection that is caused by a virus called influenza. It is said that there is a specific time of the year that children are more susceptible to the infection. Pandemic is an instance where people across the globe and of all ages are infected by influenza, and fall sick for a couple of months. Pandemics are witnessed on very rare occasions. In general, children in the age group of 6 months – 5 years of age are at a higher risk of catching the flu. Many children get infected by the seasonal influenza that in certain rare cases may result in death.

Influenza manifests in symptoms such as sudden cold and dry cough, fever, muscle pain, loss of appetite, fatigue, chills and shakes and sore throat. The impact of influenza worsens the health of the child over a span of 2-3 days itself. Influenza virus is generally found in the throat and nose. It is contagious, and can be caught from any infected person in the surrounding.

Flu vaccines are safe to use, and may or may not have certain mild side effects such as slight fever and muscle pain for around a day or two. Vaccination helps in building the child’s immune system within 2 weeks so as to effectively fight the influenza virus. There are various types of flu shots given to children depending on their age and the severity of their condition. The following are the two types of vaccinations available for children, which include flu shots that use dead viruses, and nasal spray vaccines that use weak live viruses to help combat the disease.

Flu Shots

This type of vaccination contains dead influenza virus added to the flu shots for children. The flu shot is then injected into the muscles and helps in building the immune system to fight the influenza virus by producing antibodies in the bloodstream. It is a widely used method for vaccination among children, and is considered safe. Flu shots for children are the most effective way to prevent and protect yourself from the illness. Flu shots (such as trivalent vaccine) protect the child against different types of flu viruses. The following are certain trivalent flu shots for children that made available in the market:

  • Standard-dose trivalent shots: This flu shot for children is made using a virus grown in eggs. Different types of standard shots are made available depending on the patient’s age. If it is being used for people between the age of 18 to 60 years, jet injectors can be used to provide standard-dose trivalent shots. High-dose trivalent shots are approved for people beyond the age of 60 years or so. Trivalent shots with the flu virus grown in cell culture as well as egg-free recombinant trivalent shots are approved for people above 18years of age only.
  • Quadrivalent flu shot: Quadrivalent flu shots for children provide protection and build immunity against two influenza A as well as two influenza B viruses. There are specially approved quadrivalent flu shots for people of different ages.
  • Interdermal quadrivalent shot: These types of flu shots are approved for patients between 18 and 60 years of age, and are injected into the skin instead of the muscle area with the help of a smaller needle as compared to a regular flu shot needle.

Nasal-spray Vaccines

LAIV (live attenuated influenza vaccine) is another way to provide vaccination for children. Nasal-spray vaccines contain weakened influenza viruses instead of using dead viruses, and are administered with the help of nasal sprays as compared to injections in order to build the immune system to recover from this illness. This vaccine uses a weakened virus so that it does not itself cause influenza. Nasal-spray vaccines are not recommended for children who are suffering from chronic influenza as adding any more flu viruses in the bloodstream would only worsen their condition.

It is important to learn more about flu shots for children as they must be taken every season as the body’s response to the vaccination gets poor over a period of time, and hence the immune system needs to be strengthened from time to time in order to combat the illness.