Why flu shots are especially important for kids this year


Why flu shots are especially important for kids this year

Life as a parent can be hectic, but it’s important to resist the temptation to skip your child’s flu shot, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nearly all children 6 months and older should get the flu shot as soon as possible if they haven’t already,” says pediatrician Dr. Pia Shivdasani, who practices at Tidelands Health Pediatrics on Holmestown Road in Myrtle Beach. “Getting the shot can help protect both your child and other members of your family.”

Dangerous for adults and kids

A national poll by the University of Michigan found one in three parents don’t plan to get flu shots for their children this year, a finding that has prompted concern among health experts.
“Flu can be very dangerous for children as well as adults,” Dr. Shivdasani says. “People tend to think flu is like having just a cold. But it can be much more serious. I’ve had the flu three times, and two times I ended up at the ER needing IV fluids.”

Getting a flu shot is easy and convenient

Schedule a flu shot for yourself or your child today by calling 1-866-TIDELANDS, attend a walk-in flu shot clinic or a stop by a drive-through flu shot event. Click here for more information, including times and locations. 

Dr. Shivdasani has seen the impact the illness can have on children. She has treated children who have developed life-threatening complications from the flu and suffered lasting impacts.
“Although it comes around every year, it’s important not to get comfortable with the idea of getting the flu,” Dr. Shivdasani says. “It can do a lot more than just cause minor symptoms.”

Young children most at risk

Young children under the age of 5 are among those most at risk for complications from flu because of inadequate lung development, the lack of a robust immune system and the increased risk of dehydration. Flu can cause high fevers and be accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration.
In addition, children are at risk for developing secondary infections such as pneumonia and ear infections, Dr. Shivdasani added.
Thousands of children are hospitalized each year with flu, and an estimated 150-200 children die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among those who don’t survive, about 80 percent have not received a flu shot, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Spread to others

It’s also important for children to get the flu shot because they can easily spread the disease to others. Children may not be as mindful as adults about hand hygiene or covering their mouths when they cough of sneeze.
As a result, getting the flu shot not only protects the child, but also the adults they interact with, especially those who may be at high risk for complications, including seniors and people with underlying health conditions.

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“Kids are more likely than adults to transmit the flu virus to older people and other family members,” Dr. Shivdasani says. “I try to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated, especially if there’s anybody at high risk for flu in the house, including people with conditions such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders, blood disorders, heart disease, asthma, cancer and more.”
Dr. Shivdasani says it’s especially important to get the flu shot this year because people can contract both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, potentially leading to more severe symptoms. If people become ill, receiving a flu shot can also help simplify their diagnosis because the symptoms of COVID-19 and flu overlap.
“Without getting a flu shot, it will be hard to know whether someone is ill with COVID-19 or flu without testing because the symptoms are very similar,” she says.

Limit community spread

Plus, by getting a flu shot, you can help limit the overall spread of the flu in the community and help prevent health care providers from being overwhelmed by a surge of flu and COVID-19 cases.
This year, children can receive a flu shot or a nasal spray to protect themselves from the flu.
“There is a misconception that getting the flu shot can cause you to get the flu,” Dr. Shivdasani says. “But that’s just not true.”

Dr. Pia Shivdasani is a board-certified pediatrician who practices at Tidelands Health Pediatrics in Myrtle Beach.

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