Because the flu is more dangerous for children than the common cold, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that all children over 6 months old get a flu shot. Each year, complications from the flu send an average of 20,000 children under age 5 to the hospital. Some children die; in 2012-13, 167 children were lost to the flu.
“The flu is here every year, and every year we have to be prepared, and the best way to protect yourself and your family is to get a flu shot,” said Dr. Jan Carney, associate dean for public health, professor of medicine and lead faculty for the University of Vermont’s online graduate public health certificate program. “Even at the start of flu season, it’s not too late to get a flu shot. If you haven’t already, make sure you follow the Department of Health’s recommendations and get vaccinated.”
Dr. Carney suggests that parents:
- Keep abreast of the CDC and Vermont Department of Health’s current recommendations regarding the flu.
- Track flu outbreaks across the country via the CDC website.
- Check flu activity for Vermont on the Department of Health website.
The CDC especially recommends the flu shot for children younger than age 5, and children of any age with a long-term health condition like asthma, diabetes or disorders of the brain or nervous system. Children with such health conditions are at risk of serious flu complications, such as pneumonia.
In addition, adults who come in contact with children under age 5 or with children with serious health conditions also should get a flu shot. The 2013-2014 flu vaccine protects people against the influenza viruses most likely to cause illness this year. With few exceptions, the CDC recommends that everyone older than 6 months get a flu shot – every year.