Winter is coming, and your family will need a lot more than a dragon to prepare for it. Along with stocking up on winter coats and boots, families mentally prepare themselves for a season of dry skin and stuffy noses, but worst of all, the flu. While it may be easier to get a flu shot for older children and adults, it may not always be easy figuring out when and if you should get your baby the flu vaccine. So when do babies get the flu shot, and is it even necessary at all?
Romper reached out to pediatrician Dr. Jarret Patton, who says that babies are the among the most vulnerable for severe illness or death from influenza. “Virtually every baby should be vaccinated for the flu at 6 months of age or older,” suggests Patton. "After that, they should get yearly doses as per the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations.” And if your baby has never had the flu shot before, Patton explains that they may need two shots initially, one month apart.
So what if your baby hasn’t hit that 6-month mark yet? Patton says that if your baby is under 6 months of age, their only protection is not exposing them to the flu. “A good way to prevent bringing the flu into your home is by getting everyone else in the home vaccinated."
While vaccines will probably remain controversial among parents of young children, it’s important to note that the CDC suggested that the flu vaccine is the single best way to protect a child from the flu. Influenza in younger children is more dangerous than the common cold, because in kids under the age of 5, it can put them at a higher risk of complications and the need for hospitalization, according to the CDC. Thousands of children are hospitalized due to complications from the flu and many also die.
The medical community is pretty straightforward about vaccinations and schedules, and the flu vaccine is no different. Flu shots are recommended for babies 6 months and older, and yearly after that. Keep your pediatrician in the loop, and do what is best for your family, because no one can prepare them for winter better than you.