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Should Your Child Get an H1N1 Flu Vaccine?  
Facts to help you protect your children's health this flu season


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Gerber Life Family Times Archive

HealthWhat's the best way to protect against illness from influenza, whether it's the seasonal flu or the new H1N1 flu, sometimes called "swine flu"? The answer, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a flu vaccine.

Who should be vaccinated?

Although H1N1 viruses of 2009 are likely to be the most common cause of influenza this season, the CDC expects that seasonal influenza viruses also will circulate, and hence recommends that people get a seasonal flu vaccine as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that children receive both a seasonal flu vaccine and a H1N1 flu vaccine.

  • Seasonal flu vaccine. It is important that all children aged 6 months through 18 years receive a seasonal flu vaccine NOW.
  • H1N1 vaccine. This is a separate vaccine to protect against the H1N1 flu. Primary among people who should receive the H1N1 vaccine:
    • Children aged 6 months through 24 years
    • Parents and caretakers of infants younger than 6 months old
    • Pregnant women
    • Healthcare workers and emergency services personnel
    • Adults aged 25 to 64 who have chronic health conditions

Flu shot side effects

"It's important that everyone get their vaccines," emphasizes Henry Bernstein, MD, FAAP, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and its Committee on Infectious Diseases. He explains that although many parents fear that flu shots and other vaccines may cause autism, there is "no direct link to autism and the use of vaccines."

Should my child get the H1NI vaccine as a shot or a nasal spray?

  • H1N1 flu shot is an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. This shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people, people with chronic medical conditions, and pregnant women.
  • H1N1 nasal spray flu vaccine is a vaccine made with live, weakened viruses that do not cause the flu. The spray vaccine is approved for use in healthy people aged 2 years to 49 years who are not pregnant.

When to get vaccinated

About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against the H1N1 influenza virus infection will develop in the body. Vaccination against H1N1 should begin as soon as vaccine is available and continue throughout the influenza season into December, January and beyond, advises the CDC. The timing and duration of flu activity can vary, with flu seasons lasting as late as April or May, the CDC notes.

Flu symptoms

The symptoms of H1N1 flu virus are similar to those of the regular flu: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may experience vomiting and diarrhea, and some may be infected with the H1N1 virus and have respiratory symptoms but not have a fever.

Although severe illnesses and deaths have occurred as a result of illness associated with the H1N1 virus, most people who contract the virus will have mild symptoms.

Warning signs in children

If children exhibit any of the following symptoms, get them medical care immediately:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

Articles are provided for the general interest of our readers. Gerber Life Insurance is not responsible for any content and recommends that you consult the appropriate professional with any questions or concerns you may have concerning any financial or health related issues.

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