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Stanford University School of Medicine

Guess what? Flu vaccines don’t cause the flu

Believe it or not, the 2017–2018 flu season is around the corner. And Stanford Children’s Health experts are sending a reminder that the best way to protect your children from the virus is with a flu vaccine.

“Flu vaccines are safe and do not contribute to catching the flu,” said David Wanderman, MD, a Stanford Children’s Health pediatrician at the Peninsula Pediatric Medical Group in Burlingame. “In fact, the vaccine is actually a killed virus, so it cannot cause the flu.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued their annual Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children. Here are the highlights for the 2017–2018 flu season:

  • An annual seasonal flu vaccination is recommended for everyone who is 6 months or older, including children and adolescents. This is especially important for children who are at a high risk of influenza complications, including those with asthma, diabetes mellitus and compromised immune systems.
  • As with last year, the FluMist nasal spray (which contain a weakened virus) is not recommended because it was ineffective at preventing the flu in past years.
  • Children should receive the vaccine as soon as possible in their community, preferably in October.
  • Pregnant women may be vaccinated for the flu at any time in their pregnancy.

Anita Juvvadi, MD, from Juvvadi Pediatrics, reminds her patients that along with getting vaccinated, the best way to prevent the flu is with good hand washing and hygiene. Juvvadi said. “Try not to touch your nose, and sneeze or cough into your elbow, not into your hands. Wash and sanitize your hands frequently.”

For local readers: Flu shots are available for Stanford Children’s Health patients in locations across the Bay Area.

A modified version of this piece originally appeared on the Healthier, Happier Lives Blog.

Previously: Experts and 8-year-olds agree: It's worth getting a flu shot and How one mom learned the importance of the flu shot - the hard way
Photo by qimono

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