Influenza or “flu” can be dangerous especially for young children. There’s an increased rate of hospitalizations, severe illness and death for healthy children five years and younger and even more so for children under age two. The most vulnerable population for flu complications are children with heart or lung conditions, weakened immune systems, blood disorders, and asthma.
It’s crucial that pregnant women, who are also at increased risk of severe influenza complications, receive their flu shot not only for themselves but also for their baby. Flu shots help generate antibodies that the mom will pass along to her child and that will help protect them until they are old enough to get their own flu shot at 6 months.
Recommendations for infant flu shots have changed in recent years. When children reach six months old, they need two flu shots – spaced at least four weeks apart. The first is a priming dose that begins to generate antibodies. The second dose generates the robust immune response needed to provide adequate protection against influenza. According to the CDC, children six months to eight years old will need two doses of flu vaccine if they’ve never had a flu shot before or if they’ve only received one single dose prior to July 2020.
Flu shots are recommended for parents and kids in October, before the peak season – typically in January and February, but can always potentially occur sooner.
If you need a pediatrician for your child, call (423) 698-BABY (2229) to schedule an appointment. If you need a primary care physician, visit CHI Memorial Medical Group.