The flu season is fast approaching and this year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded immunization recommendations to include all children from 6 months to 18 years of age.
"It is important that all children get immunized against this illness because children are at greater risk of experiencing complications as a result of influenza," says Dr. Gerald Loughlin, pediatrician-in-chief at the Phyllis and David Komansky Center for Children's Health at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Dr. Loughlin offers the following guidelines to help parents protect their children and their entire families from catching the flu this winter:
- Get vaccinated early: The flu vaccine is most effective when administered during the fall months, before the onset of flu season, which usually reaches its peak in early December.
- Know your options: A nasal vaccine is available for healthy children from age 2 and over, and for adults up to the age of 49. There are some restrictions so check with your doctor first.
- It's never too late: The flu season begins in the fall and can last through the spring, so if you do not get vaccinated in October you can still be immunized in December or January.
Get your family members vaccinated
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the following groups get immunized against the flu every year:
- Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday
- Pregnant women
- People 50 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and any form of immunosuppressive illness
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including health care workers, household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu, household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
Physicians and nurses at the Komansky Center for Children's Health at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell strongly urge parents to have their children immunized early to make sure they have optimal protection during December and January when flu epidemics are at their peak.
The above story is based on materials provided by NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/W. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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