Considering getting the flu vaccine for your child? Here's what you need to know. 

For those of you that are skeptical about the benefits outweighing the risks of vaccines, I'm right there with you. My kids are current on all their childhood vaccines, but I've never opted to get them an elective vaccines. However, my son has been so sick so many times since he started daycare at the end of July (and given all his daycare diseases to me), that I don't dare not to get my kids vaccinated from the flu!

We didn't warn the kids about this ahead. Dad just picked them up yesterday afternoon and said, "We're going to the doctors. But don't worry, you're not getting shots." That was an immediate relief for them.

The kids received a live, attenuated influenza vaccine (called LAIV), which is sprayed into the nose. "Attenuated" means weakened. As soon as my husband read this, he was not happy. My husband was supportive of my decision to vaccinate the kids, but otherwise does not believe in the flu vaccine. (There are other inactivated and recombinant flu vaccines that do not contain live virus, but those are only given by injection with a needle.)

As we continued reading the information sheet, it says children from age 6 months through 8 years may need 2 flu vaccine doses during one year. Really? That sucks. It takes about 2 weeks for protection to develop after the vaccine is administered.

Some mild side effects experienced by kids include:

  •  runny nose, nasal congestion, or cough
  • fever
  • headache and muscle aches
  • wheezing
  • abdominal pain or occasional vomiting

Children ages 2-8 that shouldn't get the nasal spray vaccine include:

  • Children who are getting aspirin therapy, or taking medicines that contain aspirin;
  • Children who have a weakened immune system (immunosuppression);
  • Children with a history of egg allergy;
  • Children 2 through 4 years old who have had asthma or wheezing during the last 12 months;
  • Children who have taken influenza antiviral medications (for example, Tamiflu® or Relenza®) within the last 48 hours. [*Personal note - my daughter took Tamiflu and had MAJOR side effects! Do your research before agreeing to let your doctor prescribe Tamiflu for your child. I highly recommend against it!]

As for the other risks and serious reactions that could possibly occur from the nasal flu vaccine, I don't want to scare you so read this website for all the details. And remember, there's risk involved with anything and everything.

This is our first time vaccinating our kids from the flu. Toward the end of flu season I will updated you on our experience during flu season (October to May), whether the nasal vaccine held its weight, if it was worth it, and whether or not I would do this again next flu season. I'd love to hear about your experiences, whether you've done the flu shot or nasal vaccine, and how it worked out for you and/or your family.