The Importance of Getting Your Child's Flu Shot Early, Especially This Year

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken center stage this year, but it’s important for you to remember that we are going into the 2020-2021 flu season. While reducing your exposure to COVID-19 remains paramount, protecting your child against the flu is also imperative. Each year the influenza virus sickens millions of people and kills tens of thousands in the United States. 

The flu isn’t going away, making this year a more important time than ever to make sure your child receives a flu vaccination. Everyone is susceptible to influenza, but early seasonal vaccination can help protect your family’s health and slow the spread of the flu virus. 

Here at Harbor Community Health Centers in San Pedro, California, we’re dedicated to helping children and adults stay healthy this flu season and beyond. Here’s why your children (and every member of your household) needs a seasonal flu vaccine, and why it’s important to plan early. 

Combating influenza

Getting an annual flu shot is a vital step toward preventing influenza from striking yourself and your children this flu season. Many strains of influenza exist and those strains evolve and adapt. Each year, the vaccine changes according to the predictions from health experts. They use data and other technical means to determine which viral strains are most likely to become problematic during the upcoming flu season.

Everyone should get an annual flu shot, with the exception of infants younger than six months, as well as adults and children with compromised immune systems and serious allergies to any ingredient in the vaccine. 

Some people are at risk of developing serious complications from the flu. This makes it especially crucial for people in the population to get an annual flu shot. 

The flu shot doesn’t just protect your child, it protects the community. When your child gets an annual flu shot, it helps to protect the people in your community that your child comes in contact with each day. This includes teachers, care givers, healthcare providers, family, and more. 

Children who are vaccinated are much less likely to catch the virus and pass it on to others. 

Early vaccination is beneficial

The general flu season typically begins in late fall and runs until late spring. The influenza virus often peaks in December and February. Early vaccination is ideal. It’s recommended that you aim to have your child vaccinated by the end of October. Doing so offers the best chance for season-long protection. 

Keep in mind that after receiving the flu vaccine, it takes about two weeks for your child’s immune system to produce enough antibodies to protect them from influenza.  

Flu virus activity begins to increase in mid-October and often continues to circulate through spring. Getting your child vaccinated at the start of the flu season ensures complete protection for the full six months of flu season. 

Keep in mind that it’s also necessary to avoid having your child vaccinated too early. Vaccinating in late summer is linked with reduced protection later in the flu season. For the best protection, plan to have your child vaccinated in October. 

No need to worry about getting the flu from flu vaccine

There are some long-standing misconceptions about the flu vaccine. One of the most common is that the flu vaccine will give your child the flu. The flu vaccine contains either inactivated virus or single proteins from the virus.   

So why do some children feel unwell after getting the flu vaccine? Some children have mild side effects after getting the flu vaccine. Mild muscle aches and low-grade fever may occur. However, this is not a sign of illness. These symptoms usually occur within one day of receiving the flu vaccine and subside soon after. 

Protect your family from the flu today

Your family’s health is our top priority. This flu season, plan early to keep your child and your family members protected all season long. In the event that you can’t find time in your schedule until early November, your child can still benefit from getting a flu shot. Partial seasonal protection is better than no protection at all. 

To schedule a flu shot appointment for your child or any member of your family, call our team at Harbor Community Health Centers to schedule an appointment, or book your request online today.

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