“Many people have the misconception that flu shots are just for older people, but flu shots are recommended for young healthy people, including children and babies more than six months old,” says Nathan Peterson, director of Community Health for Intermountain Healthcare’s hospitals in the Salt Lake area.
“Many parents get their baby or child the immunizations required before starting day care or school, but don’t go back to their doctor for an annual flu shot in the fall,” says Ali McInturff, MD, a pediatrician at Intermountain Southridge Clinic at Riverton Hospital. “But not getting a flu shot for your child can have serious consequences.”
Children under 5 face higher risks of getting the flu
Children under age 5 are at higher risk for getting the flu, according to Utah’s Public Health Data Indicator Based Information System (IBIS)
- Flu is the number one cause of deaths in U.S. children that could be prevented by vaccination. (National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 65, No. 5, June 30, 2016)
- More than twice as many children under age 14 die from the flu each year than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined (including polio, measles, whooping cough, hepatitis, and meningitis). (Fluzone® Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine 2017 Fact Sheet)
Getting your children a flu shot each year is the best way to protect them from the deadly virus.
Who else is at risk for getting the flu?
In addition to children under 5, pregnant women, adults over 50, and individuals with chronic conditions are more susceptible to the flu than others.
“Everyone who doesn’t want to get the flu should get a flu shot, including healthy people,” says Intermountain Southridge Clinic pharmacist Melinda Gonzales, PharmD. “If more people get vaccinated, the flu is less likely to spread to those who are most vulnerable.”
New high-dose flu vaccine is available for seniors at risk
A new high-dose flu vaccine was released by the CDC in September for seniors age 65 and up who are identified by their physicians as being at special risk for the flu due to chronic conditions, compromised immune systems, or if they reside in nursing homes. Ask your doctor if you think you or a loved one may need the high-dose vaccine.
Fluzone High-Dose vaccine contains four times the amount of antigen (the part of the vaccine that helps the body make antibodies) contained in regular flu shots. The additional antigen is intended to create more antibodies in the person getting the vaccine.
Where can you get a flu shot?
Flu shots are available at physician offices, pharmacies, and many major retail locations. Pediatrician offices and clinics at hospitals with children’s units generally have staff who are specially trained to give immunizations to children.
During flu season, which begins in October, flu shots are available for walk-ins at most Intermountain Healthcare clinics and pharmacies.