Each year, influenza kills more people in the U.S. than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined. For the 2008-2009 flu season, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics have expanded the recommendation for flu vaccination to include all children ages six months to 18 years.
The Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper is pleased to bring parents this information about the new guidelines for children and the importance of flu vaccines. Please make an appointment with your pediatrician and take your children to be vaccinated. There are a small number of children who should not be vaccinated and you should discuss this possibility with your family’s doctor.
If you need a pediatrician, please call our Physician Referral Staff at 1-800-8-COOPER (1-800-826-6737) who will assist you in getting an appointment.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends annual influenza immunization for the following groups:
- All children, both healthy and with high-risk conditions, ages 6 months through 18 years
- Household contacts and out-of-home care providers of:
- Children with high-risk conditions
- Healthy children younger than 5 years of age
- Health care professionals
- Pregnant women
The recommended age range of children for annual flu immunization has been expanded to include all children 6 months through 18 years of age. This means vaccinating:
- All children at higher risk for influenza complications (eg, those with chronic medical conditions or immunosuppression).
- All healthy children 6 months up to 5 years of age.
- All children 5 through 18 years of age, if feasible, in the 2008-2009 influenza season, but parents should definitely plan on this for next year.
This expansion targets all school-aged children, who are at a significantly higher risk of needing medical care for the flu compared with healthy adults. Additionally, reducing the flu transmission among school-aged children will in turn reduce transmission of influenza to family and community members.
On occasion there are reactions to the vaccine that go beyond soreness at the injection site. The most common symptom besides soreness is fever. Fever usually occurs within 24 hours after immunization and affects approximately 10% to 35% of children younger than 2 years; the frequency of fever after injection is much lower in older children and adults. Mild systemic symptoms, such as nausea, lethargy, headache, muscle aches, and chills, also can occur with this year’s injection.
Because viruses for both vaccines are grown in eggs, neither should be administered to anyone with known allergic reactions (ie, hives, angioedema, allergic asthma, and systemic anaphylaxis) to chicken and egg proteins. Less severe or local symptoms of allergy to eggs or feathers should not deter administration of influenza vaccine.