The flu vaccine is recommended for all children starting at the age of six months. It is especially important to vaccinate children with asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, certain blood disorders, diabetes, and any child with a weakness of the immune system.

Influenza is a viral illness, most common in the winter months, in which patients develop high fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, and nausea, often with a sore throat, nasal congestion, and cough. It is caused by the influenza virus, which changes slightly with each annual season. High attack rates occur among school-aged children and their family contacts. A nasal swab done in the office can detect the influenza virus.

Prevention of influenza is best accomplished by getting the yearly flu vaccine and good hygiene, including regular hand-washing and avoidance of those with symptoms of influenza.

There are many flu viruses and they are always changing.  The seasonal influenza vaccine is about 50% effective in preventing illness and has minimal side effects. Even when the flu strains do not match the circulating strains, having the updated vaccine can provide some protection against severe illness.  Children under the age of 9 years who are getting the vaccine for the first time should receive two doses a month apart. It takes about two weeks for the protection to be effective.

In the event of developing symptoms of influenza, it is important to seek medical care as soon as possible since antiviral medications such as Tamiflu can be very effective in lessening the duration of the influenza symptoms if taken in the first 48 hours of symptoms.

The American Academy of Pediatrics as well as Raleigh Pediatrics continues to recommend a seasonal flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older.