Is the flu vaccine really necessary?
Even though death from the flu is rare, serious complications in young children are not. That's why the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and most doctors recommend that babies, young kids, and children with certain chronic health conditions get vaccinated every year.
"We've seen an increasing link between the flu and serious bacterial pneumonia, as well as other serious bacterial infections," says Neal Halsey, MD, director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland and Parents magazine advisor. "And it's just not possible to predict which children may develop complications from the flu."
Because the vaccine is designed to protect against the main strains of flu that are expected to circulate that year, its effectiveness depends on how close the vaccine matches what circulates, says Dr. Halsey. "The vaccine is between 70 and 90 percent effective in most years, so there's still a pretty good chance your child will be protected from the flu, even if that year's vaccine isn't a perfect match."
Sources: Michael T. Brady, MD, the Vice Chair of the AAP's Committee on Infectious Diseases. Neal Halsey, MD, director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland and a member of the Parents magazine board of advisors. Paul Offit, MD, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and a member of the American Baby magazine advisory board member. Robert W. Sears, MD, author of The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child. Continuing Increases in Autism Reported to California's Developmental Services System from Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 65 No. 1, January 2008. CDC sections on Flu, Flu Vaccination, and Thimerosal. FDA section on Thimerosal in Vaccines. American Academy of Family Physicians section on Preventing the Flu. Mayo Clinic section on Flu Vaccination.
Copyright © 2008; Parents.com.
Updated October 2009
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