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Your Teen Needs a Flu Shot!

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Updated January 23, 2009

Your Teen Needs a Flu Shot!

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends that all children from the ages of 6 months to nineteen years old get a flu shot for this upcoming flu season. Parents may be asking why it is important for their teen to get the flu vaccine. Here are 3 great reasons to drag your teen to the doctor for the shot.

1. Your Teen Has a Chronic Illness.

It is recommended that if your teen has a chronic illness, he or she should get the flu shot. If your teen has any chronic lung issues such as asthma, a condition that compromises lung functions or any other lung issue, it is important for them to get the shot. The flu can negatively affect your teen's lung function or can lead to pneumonia, so teens with chronic lung issues should get vaccinated against the flu.

Teens with other chronic illnesses such as sickle cell anemia, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, immune suppression, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, or who are on long-term aspirin therapy all should receive a flu shot this season. If your teen has one of these conditions, talk to your doctor about how to get a flu shot for your child.

2. To Protect Grandma and Little Timmy.

Even if your teen doesn't show signs of being sick, or just has a little cough, he or she may be filled with the flu virus. When your teen then visits his grandparents, or plays with his little brother, he could be passing the virus onto them. In children under 5 years old and in adults over 65, the complications of flu can be severe –- leading to pneumonia, hospitalization and even death. So your teen might be unknowingly passing the flu virus around to others who may not fight it off as well. You can protect others by protecting your teen –- not a bad deal. This is one of the reasons that the CDC expanded their recommendations to include teens. When one person is vaccinated, it protects many more.

3. Because the Flu Is No Fun.

I have heard many people complain that they get “the flu” from the flu shot or the nasal flu vaccine. What I have seen are the occasional side effects from the flu vaccine, not the flu itself. The side effects tend to be mild. The flu is not. When someone gets the flu, they tend to have a high fever and are exhausted and have body aches. Other symptoms of the flu are a dry cough, headache, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Teens with the flu are often quite sick and miss school and other activities. It is no fun for anybody, so it makes sense to prevent the illness with a simple immunization. The CDC wants you to have a healthy teen and one way to do that by getting your child vaccinated against this sometimes dangerous disease.

No one wants to see their child sick. Call your pediatrician or primary care provider and find out how you can get a flu shot for your teen.

Sources:

Children, the Flu, and the Flu Vaccine. Centers for Disease Control. October 23, 2008. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/children.htm

Flu Symptoms and Severity. Centers for Disease Control. October 23, 2008. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/symptoms.htm

How Well Does the Seasonal Flu Vaccine Work? Centers for Disease Control. October 23, 2008. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccineeffect.htm

The Nasal-Spray Flu Vaccine (Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine [LAIV]). Centers for Disease Control. October 23, 2008. http://www.cdc.gov/FLU/about/qa/nasalspray.htm

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