Babies are at particular risk for the flu because their immune systems are not as well developed as that of adults. This is why many parents seek to get their babies the flu shot at the start of the cold and flu season. These commonly asked questions can help you decide whether or not your baby can have a flu shot and how else you can protect your baby this winter.
Can your baby get a flu shot?
Yes, babies can get flu shots, as long as they are over 6 months old. Babies under 6 months old are too young to get the flu shot.
What if your baby turns 6 months old midway through the winter?
Your baby can still benefit from getting a flu shot even if the cold and flu season is halfway finished.
Is there a non-shot form of the vaccine that a baby can take?
If your child is two years old or older, he or she can get the flu vaccine nasal spray. In fact, there's evidence that the nasal spray is more effective for children ages 2 to 8 than the shot. However, if your child is younger than 2, he or she will not be able to have to have the shot.
Is there some way to make the flu shot less traumatic for a baby?
Your baby will experience discomfort while the shot is being administered. However, there are ways that you can make the experience less upsetting for your baby. Have your baby dressed in pajamas while the shot is being administered. This way your baby will be as comfortable as possible and can easily transition to nap time once at home. If your baby is breastfeeding, take time in the waiting room to breastfeed your baby before taking him or her home. The act of breastfeeding is comforting for many babies and will help him or her calm down. If your baby has grown attached to certain items like a blanket or pacifier, be sure to have that on-hand at the doctor's office, so your baby can feel comforted by its presence.
Is there any other way to prevent your baby from getting the flu this cold and flu season?
Have the other adults and children in your home get the flu shot to prevent the virus from going around the house. Use hot water when washing dishes and use hand sanitizer frequently. If a member of your family gets sick, have him or her stay in a bedroom or spare room, away from other members of the family, until the illness has passed.
For more information, speak with a local pediatrician, such as Kitsap Children's Clinic LLP. He or she can answer your questions about the flu shot and help you decide what is best for your baby.