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Health Team

Doctors: Children should get flu shots now

Posted September 14

— Flu season is almost here, but the time is now for everyone, including children, to get vaccinated.

Many doctors’ offices and pharmacies now offer the vaccination for the coming fall and winter. Waiting too long to get the shot puts children at risk.

A new report in the Journal of Pediatrics shows it's best to have children vaccinated for the flu by the end of October, or as soon as the vaccine is available.

Many parents think last year's flu shot still offers protection for their child, but Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Frank Esper says flu strains change every year.

"Basically, they just change the way they appear, so that the last year's vaccine doesn't work very well, and that's why we need to get vaccinated every year," Esper said.

The flu is one of the top infection-related causes of death in children in the United States. Even if the flu doesn't produce symptoms bad enough for your child to stay home from school, they can still transmit the virus to someone else.

Of all the respiratory viruses that typically appear between November and April, the flu is the one that causes the most concern.

Esper says parents also need to know that getting the flu vaccine does not protect a child from the hundreds of other viral infections circulating during the same time of year.

"They're going to still get sick and so a lot of times people say, 'I got the flu shot, but my child still got the flu.’ Probably not. Probably got another one of those one hundred unnamed viruses that have the same symptoms of fever and cough and runny nose," Esper said.

Doctors recommend getting the flu shot for your child sooner rather than later because it takes the body up to 4 weeks to develop a proper immune response.

The flu season typically begins in November, but cases of the flu have been known to occur even earlier than that in past years.

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