Does Your Child Need a Second Dose of the Flu Vaccine?
Children are at higher risk of getting the flu and may also be more likely to develop complications from the flu virus. In fact,20,000 children under age of 5 are hospitalized for flu-related complications in the United States each year.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advocates that vaccination is the best way to protect children from the flu, starting at 6 months of age. But for some children, one dose of the vaccine may not be enough to fully protect them.
Making time to get your child vaccinated even once can be challenging, but without a second dose, that first shot may not be effective at all. That’s why researchers have turned to text messaging as a way to help parents understand the importance of a second dose. A recent study found families who received an educational text reminder were much more likely to get their child a second flu vaccine than families who received a written reminder.
The CDC advises that children who are getting vaccinated for the first time, as well as others who have been vaccinated previously, may need two doses of the influenza vaccine to be fully protected.
In addition, there are important guidelines for children’s flu vaccination for ages 6 months to 8 years. As stated by the CDC, they are:
- The first dose should be given as soon as vaccine becomes available.
- The second dose should be given at least 28 days after the first dose. The first dose “primes” the immune system; the second dose provides immune protection. Children who only get one dose but need two doses can have reduced or no protection from a single dose of flu vaccine.
- If your child needs the two doses, begin the process early. This will ensure that your child is protected before influenza starts circulating in your community.
- Be sure to get your child a second dose if he or she needs one. It usually takes about two weeks after the second dose for protection to begin.
If your child is between ages 6 months and 8 years old, speak with your doctor about whether two doses of the flu vaccine is recommended for him or her.
Photo credit: Thibault Martin-Lagardette.