Q. Why has the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended against the nasal spray version of the flu vaccine this flu season? Do you have any recommendations for breaking this to a child who doesn’t like shots?
A. The predominant strains of the flu virus tend to change from year to year, and last flu season the nasal vaccine wasn’t as efficient as the injectable vaccine in fighting the flu infections, says Dr. Roya Samuels, a pediatrician and attending physician at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park. Translation: Too many children who got the nasal version of the vaccine got the flu anyway.
So this year, the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that all children get the injection form, Samuels says.
“As with any vaccine, try to allay fears and explain that the doctor or nurse gives the vaccine to provide protection against a virus that could make you very ill, very sick,” Samuels advises. “Just like we do our best to eat healthy foods and exercise, this is another thing we can do to protect our health.”
The vaccine is recommended for all children 6 months and older, Samuels says. The first time the vaccine is administered to young children, they receive two doses, the second one a month later than the first in a booster shot, she says.
Now is the time to get the vaccine for a child if you haven’t already. The optimal time to get the protection is in the fall, at the beginning of the flu season, Samuels says. But it’s also better late than never, she says. “February is when we see the highest incidence of the flu,” Samuels says.
Parents should get the vaccine as well to be good role models, she says.