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Do kids need a flu vaccination?

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Flu Vaccinations are now available at many Unichem Pharmacies around New Zealand.  Some Unichem Pharmacies can administer flu shots to children aged 3 years and over.  We look at some of the common questions surrounding influenza in children and the flu vaccine. 

 

Why does my child need a flu shot? 

Influenza (or the Flu) is a viral infection that can in some cases lead to life-threatening complications and death in young children. The flu vaccine will reduce the risk of your child needing emergency care and having to go to hospital and reduce the risk of accidently spreading the flu to friends and whanau.  The flu shot is particularly important for children who suffer from chronic health conditions. Please consult our pharmacist for any questions you may have.  

 

What is the recommended age to get my baby/child’s first flu shot? 

Children over the age of 6 months and under 9 years old who are receiving the influenza vaccine for the first time should receive two doses at least 4 weeks apart as they may not have any natural immunity to the flu.  Children who have received a previous flu vaccination and those aged 9 years and over only needs a single dose.  Unfortunately, babies aged under 6 months cannot be vaccinated against influenza and run a higher risk of being hospitalized with influenza. The best way to protect a baby under 6 months of age is for the mother to receive the flu vaccine while they are pregnant at any stage and before winter if possible.  

 

My child is healthy and they already had a flu vaccination last year, do they really need another one? 

 

The flu can be caused by different strains of the influenza virus. Scientists from the World Health Organisation identify the four strains of influenza virus they think will be the most widespread and dangerous for the coming winter and use them to develop the flu vaccine for that year. 

Being fit and healthy will not protect your child from the flu. Immunising your child against influenza will be their best defence this winter. 

 

What should my child do after for the flu shot? 

While most people will have no reaction or a mild reaction to the flu vaccine, your child may develop a fever, muscle aches, or soreness or swelling at the injection site. These symptoms are quite common and will settle with 1-2 days at most.  

If your child develops a fever, you can refer to this article on what to look out for and how to treat.

 

Sources: 

 

‘Everything you need to know about Flu’ – Ministry of Health, 2022, 

Flu (influenza) vaccines: Health Govt NZ. Health Govt. New Zealand. Retrieved May 24, 2022, from https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/influenza/flu-influenza-vaccines 

Immunisation during pregnancy: Health Govt NZ. Health Govt. New Zealand. Retrieved May 24, 2022, https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/immunisation/immunisation-during-pregnancy 

Influenza vaccine – children: Health Navigator NZ. Health Navigator New Zealand. Retrieved May 24, 2022, from https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/medicines/i/influenza-vaccine-children