Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Children's Health Influenza

Influenza season is from November through April in the US. Each year, the influenza virus changes after an outbreak. A new influenza vaccine must be manufactured each year, in order to be effective against the new virus. Influenza vaccinations are given at the beginning of each flu season. Although the vaccine does not guarantee protection from infection, the risk of infection is reduced greatly.

There are two types of vaccine:

Annual influenza vaccine is recommended for the following:

This vaccine should not be given to certain people. These include:

Side Effects
Side effects from influenza vaccination in adults are relatively rare. In children, side effects may be more common. Influenza vaccine cannot cause influenza. The most commonly reported effect is soreness around the vaccination site for several days after the vaccination. This can occur in about one out of every three people getting this vaccine.

Other reported side effects include:

They are most common in those who have not been exposed to the influenza vaccines, such as young children. These reactions begin 6 to 12 hours after vaccination and can last for 1 or 2 days. Minor symptoms can be treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Avoid the use of aspirin in children because of the risk of Reye's syndrome.

Allergic Reactions
Immediate allergic responses to flu vaccine occur very rarely. When they do occur it is usually within minutes to hours of receiving the shot. Severe allergic reactions may cause hives, breathing problems, horse voice, paleness, dizziness, and low blood pressure. There have been rare reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) after a flu vaccine.

Despite a small chance of a serious reaction, there is no doubt that the vaccination is safer than the risks of influenza. Vaccination is also far less expensive and more effective than using anti-flu medicines for a flu infection or exposure.

Home care of minor influenza vaccine reactions:

Notify your doctor if:
  • You become very weak, confused or disoriented after the vaccine
  • You develop a high fever or persistent vomiting after the vaccine
  • You develop a new seizure or fit after the vaccine
  • You develop a widespread rash after the vaccine
  • You develop increasing pain, redness and swelling of the injection site that does not respond to home care
  • You develop a boil or draining pus from the injection site
  • You develop worsening weakness in the legs after the vaccine

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