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Home / News and Events / Health Tips / Everyone needs a flu shot
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Everyone needs a flu shot
 

Reviewed By: Kathryn Edwards, M.D., Pediatric Infectious Diseases (Last Updated: October 12, 2010)

The big question at schools and daycares this month should be: “Have you had your flu shot yet?”

For the first time, every man, woman, and child over 6 months of age who can be vaccinated, is advised to get the flu vaccine. That advice comes from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) after research projects all over the world, including here at Vanderbilt, found the vaccine is universally beneficial.

“The impact of influenza on all children is great. Over the past several years the recommendations have moved from immunizing only high-risk children, to all young children less than 5 years of age and now to all children. Studies conducted at Vanderbilt were instrumental in showing the burden of influenza in all children and expanding these recommendations,” said Kathryn Edwards, M.D., Sarah H. Sell Professor of Pediatrics, and director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program (VVRP).

Hospitalization and death rates from influenza are greater in high-risk populations, including young infants and pregnant women. While science shows the flu shot is safe, there is lingering public concern about the safety of taking a flu shot while pregnant. To address any questions about safety, and to examine transference of protection from mothers to unborn babies, Vanderbilt is participating in a national study on flu vaccination in pregnant women.

While flu season doesn’t normally peak in Middle Tennessee until January, Edwards says certain populations should not to delay getting the vaccine.

“All children need to get their influenza vaccine, but also, parents of children too young to be immunized (under six months old), or with high risk medical conditions should be immunized as well. The sooner, the better,” Edwards said.
 
There are two types of vaccines.
 
1. The "flu shot" contains killed virus. It is approved for use in people older than six months, including healthy people and those with chronic medical conditions. Only those with egg allergies are advised not to get the standard vaccine.
 
2. The nasal-spray flu vaccine is made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu. It is approved for use in people two to 49 years of age who do not have health problems like asthma and are not pregnant. Check with your pediatrician to see if your child is eligible for the nasal-spray.


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