Flu-shot season starts this month. Need-to-know info from The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child (Little, Brown & Company, October), by Robert Sears, M.D.:
* A new version of FluMist, a nasal spray that's 50 percent more effective than the shot, may soon be approved for children as young as 2. Visit thevaccinebook.com
* Most flu shots in use today still contain some mercury. If you're concerned about this, be sure your doc doesn't use Fluzone from a ten-dose vial (it contains by far the largest concentration). The brand's single doses are mercury-free, as is FluMist. The other two shots, Fluarix and Fluvirin, contain minuscule amounts.
* Fewer than 50 children under 5 die from flu complications each year, according to the American Lung Association. Your child's flu shot is usually more about avoiding a really uncomfortable week -- and preventing the flu from spreading to seniors, who are most vulnerable.
* If you breastfeed and don't work outside the house, ask your doctor if your baby really needs the shot. Nursing boosts her immunity, and you'll bring home fewer germs.