The flu virus is common and unpredictable, and can cause serious complications and even death. The best way to protect your children is through an annual influenza immunisation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend annual influenza immunisations for all people aged six months and older, out-of-home caregivers and household contacts. Young children with asthma, heart disease, diabetes, weakened immune systems and pregnant women are at high risk for complication of influenza, such as pneumonia.

The new influenza vaccines are now available and will be through the autumn and winter seasons.  Infants and children up to eight years of age who are receiving the flu shot for the first time may need two doses of the vaccine, given four weeks apart.  The flu vaccine is given by intramuscular injection and is approved for children six months and older.

The vaccine contains strains from both types of influenza A and B, is made from killed viruses and is free of any preservatives.  Mild symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and chills can occur within 24 hours of immunisation, but these symptoms are usually mild and resolve on their own in a couple of days:  you cannot get the flu from the vaccine. The flu vaccine is highly effective so if you catch the flu after being vaccinated, you will get a milder form of the disease.  It may be given at the same time as other vaccines but at different place on the body. Children with an egg allergy can safely get the flu shot without having an allergy test first.

The flu vaccine is safe and effective; please consult your children’s paediatrician for more information.