Your kids — in fact, your whole family — should get flu shots every year. This year, with COVID-19 in the mix, it’s especially important.
Kids six months to nine years need two shots about four weeks apart. Kids ages nine and up need just one shot. Two weeks after the course of vaccinations is complete, kids will have immunity to the flu.
That means that young children should get their flu shots as early as possible, so they will develop immunity before the flu season gets into full swing. Northwest Arkansas Pediatrics has drive-through flu shot clinics planned. Call (479) 442-7322 for an appointment.
Flu is different every year
While we have an annual flu season, we see different strains of flu each year. This is why we don’t develop immunity to the flu if we have a case of influenza.
The 1918 pandemic was known as the Spanish Flu, even though it probably didn’t originate in Spain. In 1968, there was a pandemic known as the Hong Kong Flu, and in 2009 a strain of influenza known as Swine Flu reached pandemic status.
Flu vaccines are developed each year for the strains of flu which are expected. For the 2020-21 flu season, the vaccine protects against four strains of the virus.
Flu shots are important every year, especially for kids. Young children are more likely to have complications from flu, including pneumonia and dehydration. But this year, the presence of the coronavirus pandemic adds an extra layer of urgency.
One recent study found that hospitalizations for flu and COVID-19 were equally common in children. The two diseases also have some similar or overlapping symptoms. Distinguishing between flu and coronavirus can slow down treatment of either illness; flu vaccine can help doctors focus treatment in the right direction.
It will also be easier to handle COVID-19 if most of our kids are vaccinated against the flu and we don’t see spikes of flu at the same time as coronavirus.
Flu can increase susceptibility
Influenza weakens the body’s ability to fight off other infections. In the 1918 pandemic, many deaths were caused by bacterial pneumonia. The flu weakened the victims’ lungs and made it easier for pneumonia to set in.
It is possible that flu could make its victims more susceptible to COVID-19.
Fortunately, we have safe and effective vaccines for flu. Make an appointment for your kids’ flu shots, or contact your pediatrician with any questions.