The best time to get the flu vaccine is at the start of the flu season, which lasts from October to March. Getting the flu vaccine can reduce the chances that your child will be affected by influenza this year. The vaccine will protect your child against the strain that is expected to be most common during the coming flu season. Avoiding the flu can also reduce the risk of secondary viral infection in children as conditions such as pneumonia often follow influenza.
Who Should Have the Flu Vaccine?
Anyone can have the seasonal flu vaccine in order to reduce the chances of catching influenza. However, it is particularly important for young children to have the vaccine. The symptoms of viral infection in children can be worse than for adults. It is a particularly good idea to have your child vaccinated against the flu if they are:
- Between the ages of two and three
- In the early years of school, from reception to year four
- Affected by any chronic health conditions that could increase the risk of flu complications, unless they have a weakened immune system or severe asthma that is being treated with steroids
Getting the Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine for children is given as a nasal spray, so there is no need for any needles. The spray is simply squirted once up each nostril. It only takes a few seconds but it can be very effective at preventing viral infection in children. The nasal spray vaccine is absorbed very quickly, so it will work even if your child blows their nose, sneezes or develops a cold afterwards. However, you should wait to have the vaccine if your child is wheezing or has a blocked or runny nose before the appointment.
If you want your child to have the flu vaccine, all you need to do is make an appointment with your doctor. The flu vaccine is also given in primary schools to children who meet the age requirements set in your area.