Preventing the Flu: To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate?

As the weather turns colder and families stay inside more often, germs tend to spread faster and sickness tends to become more frequent. Some call this the fall season, but pediatricians call it flu season.

Since we work around babies all day at Infant Crisis Services, a nurse came in last week to offer the flu vaccination to those on staff. Some chose to get it, others opted out. There are always a lot of questions surrounding vaccines, so I want to lay out the guidelines and recommendations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. In fact, those 6 months to 4 years old fall into the highest risk category. The CDC also strongly recommends the vaccine for pregnant women and those who are caretakers to children under the age of five.

For parents who don't like the thought of poking and prodding their little ones and would like them to have the nasal spray instead... it may not be an option. The nasal spray vaccine is not recommended for children under the age of two or for pregnant women.

Some pediatricians actually recommend two doses of the vaccine for some children. Check with your doctor for specifics, and if they do recommend two doses, get that first dose now. It can take two weeks after the second dose for a child to be fully protected.

Finally, studies have shown that Native American children are more likely to have severe flu symptoms that require hospitalization. So, the CDC urges those of American Indian decent to get vaccinated every year.

For additional details and recommendations check out the CDC's website.