A lot of parents are asking me about this year’s flu vaccine. It is the topic of the moment! So here is the quick and dirty regarding this year’s flu season.
The flu season can start as early as October, tends to peak around December to February, and can last until May.
In Canada, there are two forms of the quadrivalent flu vaccine available and recommended for children. It is recommended that ALL children >6 months of age should receive the flu vaccine. The first available vaccine is the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) that is an intramuscular injection, and the second is the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) that is administered intranasally (nose spray). They have both been proven to be equally effective at protecting against this year’s influenza virus. The intramuscular IIV can be given to any child > 6 months of age, but the intranasal LAIV cannot be given until a child is >2 years old.
Another common question connected to the flu shot is the fear of an allergic reaction due to an egg allergy. The only contraindication to the flu shot is a previous anaphylactic reaction to the flu shot or a component of the flu shot EXCEPT egg, or the development of Guillain-Barre syndrome. So let me repeat, egg is not a contraindication for either the IIV or the LAIV flu vaccine, and this comes from the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations.
Another thing to keep in mind that any child <9 years of age receiving their first ever flu vaccine will require 2 doses 4 weeks apart. So don’t forget to make your second appointment before you leave!
Please speak to your healthcare provider about which form of this season’s flu vaccine is best for your little one as there are additional contraindications for the LAIV form. And don’t forget that you as a caregiver should also visit your healthcare provider or local pharmacy to receive your flu vaccine.
Wash you hands, get your vaccine, and be a flu fighter this year!