It's always a good idea to make sure your children get an annual flu shot. However, this is all the more true as the coronavirus is spreading more widely in much of the United States.
As every parent knows, the cold and flu season always brings a plethora of respiratory viruses and runny noses, but this year there is a chance of catching both the flu and Covid-19. Therefore, public health officials urge everyone to get the flu vaccine to protect ourselves and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by sick patients.
"Any time you get a virus it can lead to you having another infection," said Dr. med. Flor M. Muñoz, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston and lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Recommendations for Influenza Prevention.
If you've been thinking about this year's flu shot and wondering when to get it or where to go during the pandemic, the answers are below.
GET MORE NYT PARENTS Sign up for this newsletter and follow @nytparenting on Instagram and Twitter.
Does my child need more than one flu shot?
It depends on whether. Children usually get their first flu shot at 6 months of age. At this point, they'll get another flu shot about four weeks later. This is because the immune systems of young children under the age of 9 are not as responsive to the vaccine as older children and adults, said Dr. Muñoz. Maximum immunity develops about two weeks after the second shot.
Children younger than 9 years of age who have never received the vaccine will also need two flu shots this year, about four weeks apart. Likewise, children under the age of 9 who have only received one flu shot in the past – and have not received another flu shot at any other time – should also receive two vaccinations this year.
Children 9 years and older only need one flu shot, and it takes at least two weeks for these children to be fully protected after being given the flu.
If you are not sure, ask your child's doctor for advice.
When is the ideal time to get the vaccine?
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that as long as your children get a flu shot in September or October, they are covered. Although there has been a history of flu vaccination shortages, there have been no production delays this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and vaccine makers estimate they will deliver 20 million more doses this flu season than last Year for a total of nearly 200 million.
Doctors say it is best not to postpone the vaccine. When the school year gets full, it can become more difficult to find time for an appointment. If you wait until the end of October, Covid-19 cases in your area may increase, making it riskier to go to a clinic or doctor's office to get the flu vaccine.
It is "better to get it if you think about it, otherwise you might wait too long or forget," said Dr. Mark Sawyer, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego and a professor at the University of California. San Diego.
Children who need two flu vaccinations should be given the first dose as soon as possible.
For children starting in September, "it will be mid-October if they are fully protected, provided they receive their second dose within four weeks," said Dr. Muñoz.
Anyone planning a flu shot should be fully vaccinated by the end of October, she advised.
According to C.D.C. the flu season can start as early as October and only last in April or May The immunity conferred by the flu shot declines over time, but more so in adults than children, added Dr. Sawyer added. So don't worry about planning the shot exactly and only plan to get your kids vaccinated in September or October.
If it's November or December and your children haven't been vaccinated, don't be discouraged. Get her vaccinated as soon as possible.
And even if your kids don't get vaccinated and then get the flu, get them vaccinated when they recover because anyone can get the flu more than once, said Dr. Muñoz.
Where is the safest place to get the vaccine?
On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services gave pharmacists across the country permission to give all scheduled admissions to children aged 3 and over, including the flu vaccine. You can use the Vaccine Finder website to find a place near you.
Although parents now have more options to vaccinate their children, it may be most beneficial to do so at your pediatrician's office, as they know your child's medical history and you have the opportunity to discuss other matters, such as sleeping problems or developmental issues Receive milestones or other vaccines that may have been overlooked earlier this year.
The coronavirus outbreak>
frequently asked Questions
Updated August 17, 2020
Why does it help to stand three feet away from others?
- The coronavirus spreads mainly through droplets from your mouth and nose, especially when you cough or sneeze. The C.D.C., one of the organizations using this measure, bases its six-foot recommendation on the idea that most of the large droplets that people make when they cough or sneeze fall within six feet of the ground. But six feet has never been a magical number that guarantees complete protection. For example, sneezing, according to a recent study, can trigger droplets that are far farther than two meters away. It's a rule of thumb: it is best to stand six feet apart, especially when it's windy. But always wear a mask even if you think they are far enough apart.
I have antibodies. Am i immune now?
- As of now, this seems likely for at least a few months. There have been appalling reports of people apparently suffering from a second attack of Covid-19. However, experts say these patients may have a protracted course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may only last in the body for two to three months, which may seem worrying, but that's perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it is highly unlikely to be possible in a short window of time after the initial infection or make people sick the second time.
I am a small business owner. Can I get relief?
- The stimulus packages passed in March provide help to millions of American small businesses. Eligible companies and non-profit organizations with fewer than 500 employees, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The assistance offered, administered by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. But a lot of people haven't seen any payouts yet. Even those who have received help are confused: the rules are draconian and some are stuck on money that they cannot use. Many small business owners get less than expected or hear nothing at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
What will the school look like in September?
- Many schools are unlikely to return to a normal schedule this fall, which will require online learning, makeshift childcare, and stunted work days to continue. California's two largest public school districts – Los Angeles and San Diego – announced on July 13 that classes will only be held remotely this fall, citing concerns that the rise in coronavirus infections in their areas is too great Poses risk to students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll around 825,000 students. They are the largest to date in the country, abandoning plans for a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution is not an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the largest in the country, New York City, are developing hybrid plans where some days are spent in classrooms and some days online. There is still no national guideline on this. So check regularly with your city school system to see what's happening in your community.
It's important to keep that contact with your child's doctor, especially for younger children, said Dr. Muñoz.
If you do decide to go to a pharmacy, don't forget to record the vaccine and when it was given, especially for children who may need a second dose, advised Dr. Sawyer.
Instead of getting a shot, children ages 2 and up can get a vaccine nasal spray. It doesn't matter what type of age-appropriate vaccine you get, according to C.D.C. are all effective.
My child had the flu last year. Doesn't that mean she's immune?
No, your child has yet to get the flu shot.
"Even if you had the flu two years ago or the year before, the stresses causing the flu this year could be completely different," said Dr. Muñoz. "It's unusual for the same strain of virus to circulate every year."
This year's vaccine includes four strains of flu, and three of the four strains were not in last year's flu vaccine, she added.
There are two types of flu viruses that affect humans the most: Influenza A and B. Each type of virus has multiple strains, each of which could be floating around. In addition, the strains can mutate during the flu season and are perceived by our immune system as a new virus.
All of this makes it difficult to predict in advance which strains will be most common or virulent in the fall. Each year the World Health Organization makes its best estimate of which strains will be in circulation and makes its recommendations for the flu vaccine.
In addition to the flu vaccine, what else can children do?
Other steps you can take to prevent respiratory viruses like the flu include: Stay away from sick people; Wash your hands frequently; Avoid touching your eyes and mouth as this is one of the ways germs can spread. continue to wear masks in public places; and social distancing whenever possible.
"Very little flu" is currently reported in the southern hemisphere, said Dr. Muñoz. "Probably because people are wearing masks and washing their hands."
At home, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and light switches. And the C.D.C. says that developing good habits can also help your body stay healthy: get enough sleep, exercise, drink plenty of water, and eat a nutritious and balanced diet.