Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Does my Tween or Teen Need a Flu Shot?

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Yes! Last year 200,000 people were hospitalized with the flu and 36,000 died of complications from the virus!

Flu vaccine supplies are plentiful this year and health care experts are encouraging everyone to get a flu shot within the next few weeks. People who really should get a flu vaccine include those considered high risk - infants, small children (under 5), seniors (over 50), people with chronic diseases, women who may become pregnant during the flu season, as well as those household members who live with someone with a chronic disease - because they are more vulnerable to complications than people without chronic diseases.

Getting a flu shot may save you lost days of school or work and school-aged children, tweens and teens are more likely to spread the flu among themselves and bring it home to younger siblings. The flu vaccine may also decrease the incidence of ear infections and other upper respiratory complications. The trick is that you need to get one every year, and if your child is under 9 year of age, and has never received a flu shot before, s/he may need two doses, at least 30 days a part.

To clear up any misconceptions you might have: the flu vaccine cannot really give you the flu - it is an inactivated vaccine with killed virus that triggers your body to produce antibodies against certain strains of the flu. A few people may have some soreness or redness around the site, but these side effects are mild and rarely last more than two days. So, do not delay!

Most large medical providers have flu shot clinics already set up, you can get one from your PCP, and even drugstores are providing them for a low cost.

Photo credit: Lazy_Lightning

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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