After a horror flu season in 2017, many parents are talking about ways to protect their children from the flu. The ‘flu shot’ is one of the options coming up in conversation. But there is a lack of knowledge around whether it is safe to immunise your baby against the flu. Here, we help you demystify the flu shot by outlining what the experts are saying.
All children between the ages of six months and four years of age are eligible for a government-funded flu shot in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander children between six months and four years and all children who have specific medical conditions are eligible for a flu shot under the National Immunisation Program.
Here are a few reasons to consider the vaccination for your child:
- Young children catch and spread the flu more than any other age group, they also have the highest incidents of hospitalisation from the flu, than any other group. This means they are at a higher risk of getting and becoming very ill from the flu.
- Apart from possible hospitalisation, young children often require visits to the emergency department for high fevers, coughs and other complications (such as brain inflamation) brought on by the flu, in otherwise healthy children.
- The risk of catching the flu if you are vaccinated is reduced by between 50 – 60 per cent. So while it is not a guarantee that your child won’t get the flu, it reduces their chances. If they do still get the flu, it may help reduce the severity of the symptoms.
- There are minimal side effects to a flu vaccination, with the most common being a sore arm and slight fever.
It is not recommended that babies under six months be given the flu vaccination, instead it is recommended that mothers are immunised whilst pregnant, as this will offer their new born some protection.
If you would like to read more about the flu, its symptoms, treatment and vaccination you can visit the Royal Children’s Hospital website.