With kids off to school and Halloween candy already on store shelves, it’s undeniable that fall is on its way—and with it, flu season. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued its updated flu vaccine recommendations and stressed the importance of getting a new flu shot this season, even if kids received one last year.
The 2011-12 flu vaccine protects against the same three strains of influenza as last year’s vaccine (Influenza A: H3N2 and H1N1; Influenza B), but because a person’s immunity drops by up to 50 percent 6 to 12 months following vaccination, kids should still get another dose this year. This is just the fourth time in the last 25 years that the seasonal flu vaccine has protected against the same strains two years in a row.
The AAP recommends everyone 6 months or older get vaccinated against the seasonal flu, especially all family members, childcare providers of kids younger than 5 years old, kids with high-risk conditions like asthma or diabetes, health care personnel, and women who are pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant, or breastfeeding during flu season. Parents of kids with a severe egg allergy should consult an allergist before vaccination, but most kids with a history of milk egg allergy can safely receive the flu vaccine without an allergy consultation.
The updated vaccine policy also clarified who should get the influenza vaccine and when:
- Infants younger than 6 months are too young to be immunized.
- Kids 6 months through 8 years of age only need a single dose of the 2011-12 influenza vaccine if they received at least one dose last season.
- Kids 6 months through 8 years of age need two doses if they were not vaccinated against the flu last season.
- Kids 9 years of age and older only need a single dose of the vaccine.
Will your kids get a flu shot this year? Will you?