Young girl getting shot, tightly hugging teddy bear

Mighty Blog

The flu shot is the best defense against influenza

A few influenza cases reported already across the country reminds us all, it’s flu shot time! The CDC recommends all residents 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine each year. The best time to get yours is before flu cases are widespread in your community; and the CDC encourages all to get the vaccine before the end of October. If you miss that deadline, don’t fret, the vaccine can be given even through January (or later) and may still provide protection.

There are two main types of vaccine available: trivalent and quadrivalent; which protect against either 3 or 4 strains of influenza, respectively. Children’s Minnesota provides our patients, families and staff the flu vaccine that protects against 4 strains.

Children 6 months to 8 years of age who haven’t received the flu shot before, or have only received one dose in their life, need 2 doses of the vaccine during the 2017-18 flu season given one month apart. Young immune systems don’t always get the full, protective antibody levels needed after the first shot, so a second is needed to make sure they are best prepared to fight severe infection. Studies show vaccinated kids have a far less chance getting of severe, even life-threatening influenza. Please don’t skip the best protection we have. Be sure to ask if your child needs to come back after 4 weeks for the 2nd dose!

Like last year, the nose-spray FluMist vaccine is not available. The CDC advises the vaccine not be used after finding it is not as effective as the shot in preventing influenza illness. We know getting shots can be scary for some kids, and the Children’s Comfort Promise aims to ease your child’s fears during these types of procedures. Visit the Children’s Comfort Promise page to learn more about preventing and treating needle pain before your family’s next appointment for vaccinations.

The vaccine provides the best protection possible against the flu, but it is not perfect. Some people that get the vaccine may still end up falling ill with the flu later in the season. A couple things to be aware of:

  • The flu shot cannot give you the flu. The shot contains an inactivated, or killed, version of the virus that does not infect, but only stimulates your body to create protective antibodies
  • The flu shot is protective against severe disease. Some vaccinated people will develop the flu during the season, but immunized children are 74% less likely to need intensive care, and immunized adults are 34% less likely to need ICU hospital service than those that did not get the vaccine.
  • The study showed that hospitalized adults vaccinated against the flu had reduced the risk of dying from influenza illness by 52-79%!
  • The shot protects against multiple circulating strains of flu. Even if you are diagnosed with the flu before getting your shot, the vaccine can help protect against other types of flu that could make you sick again.

If you or your family hasn’t received this year’s flu shot, now is the time. It takes about two weeks after the shot for your body to get the full protective effect, so don’t wait for more reports of outbreaks. Flu shots are offered at all of our 12 primary care clinics throughout the Twin Cities. Find a location near you and schedule an appointment today.

Learn more from our Children’s experts in the news:

Rachel Patterson