Truth About Flu Vaccine & Kids Might Make You Think Twice

kid getting shot

It's flu season, and if you think a flu shot will keep you and your kids safe, we've got some rather grim news: a new report by the CDC says that the flu shot is only 23 percent effective at preventing a visit to the doctor for influenza. For kids aged 6 months to 17 years, that protection rate is slightly higher: a whopping 26 percent. Wowee. Not exactly a reason to drag your kid to the doctors for a shot, huh?

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Granted, the influenza vaccine is never fullproof. Over the years, it's been found to be anywhere from 10 to 60 percent effective. The reason for this is that flu viruses change constantly, but the vaccine does not -- it's set in stone about six months prior to when flu season starts. As a result, by the time your kids get their shot, certain strains have evolved to the point that they're resistant to the vaccine. This year, the match between virus and vaccine were particularly off.

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And the numbers bear this out: experts say this flu season is particularly bad; according to the CDC, 26 kids have died from the flu across the U.S. in 13 states. Newspapers are filled with tragic stories, like a 2-year-old boy in Wisconsin who died on Christmas, followed by a 12-year-old girl on New Year's Day. Awful!

Yet in spite of the shortcoming in this year's flu shot, the CDC still recommends that people and kids get vaccinated, since 26 percent coverage is still better than nothing. Plus, researchers point out, the viruses could shift again, making the vaccine more effective (or less).

All of which means that whether you get your kids vaccinated or not, your kids should continue practicing other habits to keep colds and viruses at bay, like washing their hands frequently and avoiding touching their eyes, nose or mouth -- not to mention steering clear of sick kids.

How do you feel about giving your kids the flu shot this year?

 

Image via Schnapps2012/shutterstock

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