What is the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine (also called the influenza vaccine) is available by shot or by nasal spray. The flu shot contains dead viruses. The nasal-spray vaccine contains live but weakened viruses. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot or the nasal-spray vaccine.
The flu vaccine is given at the beginning of the flu season, usually in October or November. The flu shot is safe for children 6 months of age and older. The nasal spray vaccine is safe for children 2 years of age and older. Because flu viruses change from year to year, it is very important for your child to get the vaccine each year so that he or she will be protected. Children are more likely to have complications from the flu.
What is a vaccine?
When germs enter the body, the immune system recognizes them as foreign substances (antigens). The immune system then produces the right antibodies to fight the antigens.
Vaccines contain weakened or dead versions of the antigens that cause diseases. This means that the antigens cannot produce the signs or symptoms of the disease, but they do stimulate the immune system to create antibodies. These antibodies help protect you if you are exposed to the disease in the future.
Vaccines not only help keep your child healthy, they help all children by stamping out serious childhood diseases.
Are vaccines safe?
Vaccines are generally quite safe. The protection provided by vaccines far outweighs the very small risk of serious problems. Vaccines have made many serious childhood diseases rare today. Talk to one of our physicians if you have any questions.
Do vaccines have side effects?
Some vaccines may cause mild temporary side effects such as fever, or soreness or a lump under the skin where the shot was given. Our family health doctors will talk to you about the possible side effects of certain vaccines.