Dispelling the Flu Shot Myths

As a dad myself, I know it’s not fun watching your child get a shot. But there’s one vaccination your child needs every single year – the one for influenza, more commonly known as the flu. This respiratory illness causes high fever, sore throat, fatigue, body aches, runny nose, and coughing.

I frequently hear arguments about why parents don’t get their kids immunized against the flu. In every case, I have a valid response about why their children do need the flu shot:

  • We’re too busy to fit it in: It takes less than five minutes to get the shot. Call your physician’s office today to set up an appointment or stop by FastCare. It’s that easy. These five minutes may save your child from missing at least a week of school and activities, which will happen if she gets the flu.
  • It’s not serious. The flu is serious, especially for children with a chronic condition like asthma. Patients with the flu can develop pneumonia and other complications. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized annually in the United States because of complications from the flu.
  • The shot will make my child sick. Some people mistakenly think they’ll get the flu from the flu shot. This can’t happen. Just like with every other vaccination, it’s possible for the child to get a fever, a slight headache or have a sore arm where the shot was administered. Please note it takes at least two weeks for the antibodies in the vaccine to fully take effect so the sooner you and your children get immunized, the better.
  • My kid hates shots. If your child is over the age of 2 and doesn’t have asthma or a similar respiratory illness, she can receive the Flu Mist instead of the flu shot. In fact, the CDC recommends kids ages 2 to 8 receive the nasal spray rather than the shot since it is more effective. Problem solved.
  • My child is allergic to eggs. There’s a new vaccine available that is designed for people who are allergic to eggs so be sure to ask for it.

Getting vaccinated also helps stop the spread of influenza and will help keep people who cannot get the shot – such as newborns and infants under 6 months of age or those with compromised immune systems – healthier. Receiving the flu shot just takes a few minutes and can make a huge difference in your child’s health this winter. And don’t forget to get the flu shot yourself, too.

By Luke Tremble, MD, is a pediatrician with ThedaCare Physicians-Pediatrics in Appleton.