Throughout your pregnancy, you followed a healthy diet, made it a point to exercise and did everything possible to make sure your baby is healthy and active. Even after delivery, you focused on your diet and ensured that your baby was well protected against everything possibly harmful. Regardless of all these measures, you still have to make sure your baby is immunized against certain diseases.
Immunization is possibly the best and most effective way to prevent many diseases that could be potentially harmful for your baby. It also gives your baby’s immune cells the much needed boost to fight against anything harmful that comes his way. Here we’ve elaborated on the influenza vaccine, its basics, the best time to get it for your child, and possible side effects of Influenza Vaccine that you may need to get ready for.
[ Read: Common Childhood Diseases And Vaccines ]
The Idea Behind Vaccination:
For all those who do get their kids vaccinated but don’t really understand how
Vaccines basically contain live and weakened or dead viruses or bacteria that are actually responsible for the disease itself. For example, a vaccine against influenza contains dead or weak organisms that cause the disease itself. The idea behind this injection of dead or weak organisms in the body, it to help the immune system of the body to record the exposure to these organisms and to help it fight against it.
In the future, if an individual who has been vaccinated against influenza gets exposed to the virus that causes the disease, the immune system will recall the previous exposure and fight against the strong, live viruses in the same way as before.
The Influenza Vaccine:
Influenza or flu is a viral infection that usually spreads when the infected individual comes in close contact with a healthy individual, particularly when the infected individual is sneezing or coughing.
Exposure to secretions of the nose and lungs of infected individuals is also thought to cause an increased risk of the flu. This respiratory infection affects the lungs, and is characterized by symptoms such as high fever, headache, body ache and cough.
Flu vaccinations are important for many reasons. Individuals affected by chronic lung conditions often tend to experience symptoms, but are still able to carry out their day to day activities, whereas an individual affected by the influenza virus tends to stay ill. Left untreated, it can also exert stress on the body and cause super infections (bacterial infections that occur on top of the respiratory infection).
Seasonal Influenza Vaccine:
Seasonal influenza is probably the most concerning today, and many pandemic vaccines have now been developed for many specific strains of the virus. Generally, there are two different types of seasonal flu vaccines-
- The injection, which contains killed virus.
- Nasal spray vaccines, which contain live, but weakened viruses.
- There is also a newer type of influenza vaccine that can be injected into the skin rather than in the muscle.
It is important to note that every year, the influenza virus changes slightly, and makes the vaccine from the previous year less effective. A new vaccine is usually prepared every year to deal with the mutations and changes that may have occurred in the entire year and may have caused the strain of virus to become resistant.
The Immunization Schedule:
Influenza virus vaccines are usually prepared in eggs; however, egg-free versions of the vaccine are also being developed specifically for those with egg allergies.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every individual over 6 months of age should receive a seasonal flu vaccine. Though this vaccine is recommended for all individuals, certain higher risk groups should make it a point to get them immunized.
Vaccination is of extreme importance for those individuals who have a higher risk of developing serious complications if they get affected by flu, which includes:
- Diabetic patients
- Individuals affected by chronic lung disease
- Asthma patients
- Pregnant women
- Elderly individuals over 65 years of age
- HIV patients
- Native Americans and Alaskan natives
- Health care personnel
- Kids and teens having a higher risk of developing Reye syndrome if they get affected by flu
- All kids above 6 months of age
- Individuals having a weakened immune system
- Caregivers or those residing in the households of patients affected by these disorders.
Possible Side Effects:
Serious side effects associated with the flu vaccination are very uncommon; however, you may need to gear up for some minor side effects and after effects of the vaccination which include-
- Muscle ache
- Light fever
- Soreness and pain at the site of the infection
- Allergic reactions (in very rare cases)
Influenza vaccine is also thought to be associated with a risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a condition characterized by nerve damage, muscle weakness and fever. Several studies have found that out that just 1 in every million people that get a flu shot are likely to be affected by this condition.
In case of nasal spray vaccines, the side effects that may be noted include-
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Mild fever
- Muscle ache
[ Read: Headache In Children ]
Individuals at a higher risk of developing serious complications after the flu vaccination, including children affected by autoimmune disorders or those having a suppressed immune system should be careful and use nasal spray vaccines that contain inactive viruses as opposed to weakened viruses. Those taking biological medications such as those for rheumatoid arthritis, too, should be careful when getting a flu shot.
If your baby is over 6 months of age, you can now get him vaccinated against influenza. Make an appointment with the doctor and once again, sort out any concerns that you may have. Remember that this vaccination will be helpful in guarding your kid against this disease in the future. Good luck!
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