The AAP is recommending kids come in for flu shots before the end of October
It seems like we just finished one flu season and now, it’s time for the next. As the new school year gets rolling, it’s coming up on the 2018-2019 flu season. And this year, pediatricians want parents to move quickly in getting their little ones in for their yearly flu shot. Like, as soon as it becomes available.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement this week suggesting that parents take their children (over six months old) to get the flu shot once it’s available. Flor M. Munoz, MD, FAAP, member of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases, makes a case for the importance of immunizing kids early on in the season. “The flu virus is common – and unpredictable. It can cause serious complications even in healthy children,” she says. “Being immunized reduces the risk of a child being hospitalized due to flu.”
The news comes on the heels of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s summary of the 2017-2018 flu season, which was characterized as “high severity” with more than 180 children dying from flu. It’s the highest recorded number of kids dying from flu since the CDC started tracking the information in 2004.
And here’s the big takeaway — of the 180 children who died, an estimated 80 percent of them weren’t vaccinated against the flu.
If getting your child to stay still for the shot is too difficult, there’s still the nasal spray for kids over age two — though the AAP is recommending kids get the shot if possible. It’s proven to be most effective in protecting against all strains of flu in the last few years.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBA, FAAP, a pediatrician in Seattle and an AAP spokesperson sums it up. “Staying healthy is the goal for all of us. As a pediatrician and mom, I see too often how quickly the flu spreads,” she says. “Unfortunately, you can spread influenza without realizing it because some infected people begin to spread the virus a day or two before they have symptoms. Get the shot. It just makes sense.”