Mums are worried, but our expert says they don’t need to be.
Your kids are up-to-date with all their vaccinations, right? But you haven’t taken them to the GP to get a flu shot this year. Maybe you think the flu is too mild to worry over. Or maybe you’re concerned that the flu vaccine isn’t safe for kids, after those reports of children suffering febrile convulsions in WA a few years back.
At the same time, you might have read that there’s a particularly nasty strain of flu on the way this year. More than 100 children in the US died from the flu last winter.
There’s still time to get your kids vaccinated before the flu season hits with full force. To help you make up your mind, flu expert Dr Alan Hampson answers your nagging questions about that nasty little bug.
Do kids really need to get flu shots every year?
Dr Hampson says there are “mixed views” on this.
He says if your children have an underlying risk condition, like severe asthma or congenital heart disease, then they should “absolutely” be vaccinated, so long as they’re more than six months old.
You should also think about it if your kids are going to be in contact with vulnerable people, like elderly relatives or anyone undergoing chemotherapy. “Kids are the likely spreaders of flu in the family environment,” he points out. Also, if you and your partner both work, or you’re a single parent, it might be worth getting your kids vaccinated – or thinking about who’s going to stay home to look after them. It’s estimated that 30 per cent of kids will get the flu in any given year.
Some children in WA suffered febrile convulsions from the flu vaccine in 2010 and one girl was left brain-damaged. How can I be sure this won't happen to my kids?
These terrible side effects were caused by a particular vaccine called Fluvax. Fluvax is now not allowed to be given to children under the age of five, and only to children under the age of nine in rare circumstances.
But Dr Hampson explains that there are two or three other flu vaccines available that can safely be given to kids. A lot of research has been done to make sure these vaccines are safe, and there's more careful monitoring around now than there was back in 2010.
There are reports of kids still being given Fluvax. How do I know my GP won't give it to my kids accidentally?