Getting the flu shot will be more convenient this year because one vaccine will offer protection against both H1N1 and the seasonal flu. Even though flu season does not peak until winter, Baylor College of Medicine experts say the beginning of the school year is a good time to get the vaccine.
"Influenza is always bad news for kids because they are more likely to be susceptible and, when at school, have a high risk of exposure to the virus," said Dr. Paul Glezen, professor of molecular virology and microbiology and pediatrics at BCM.
Because children between the ages of 2 and 9 require two doses of the vaccine four weeks apart, it's important to get a head start on getting children vaccinated, said Glezen.
Vaccinations help everyone
Experts are now recommending vaccinations universally rather than restricting it to certain groups.
"You are either at risk of complications from the flu virus or at risk of spreading the virus to those who are at risk of complications," said Glezen.
Flu shot or mist?
When it comes to deciding between the shot or the mist, Glezen recommends that those who are severely immunocompromised and those who live in the household of someone who is immunocompromised get the shot. Pregnant women and those with underlying chronic conditions should also get the shot.
Healthy individuals between the ages of 2 and 49 can get the mist.
While the mist provides immediate protection, the shot takes up to two weeks to generate antibody levels in the body high enough to provide protection from the virus, said Glezen.
Glezen and colleagues are currently monitoring flu activity in the Southern Hemisphere, and although activity currently seems relatively low, both the seasonal and H1N1 viruses have been active.