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Kids Score High on Flu Vaccinations: November 12, 2013

It’s an annual tradition for Jannike Zuber and son, Thomas. One that might not be fun but should keep them both in good health.

“I always get the flu shot because I’m a teacher, so I get the flu shot. But for him I think it’s important being around other students,” says Zuber.

Figures from the CDC show more kids than ever received the flu vaccine last year when 56% of those under 18 were immunized.

Experts hope the trend holds this season, which threatens to be a long one.

“I’m seeing it earlier this year than I have in previous years,” says Dr. Christina Cavanagh, family practitioner with Lee Memorial Health System.

As illnesses go, the flu is highly contagious so protection is the top form of prevention. In the state of Florida, children under 18 have to make a trip to the doctor’s office to get the vaccine.

“A child brought into the office to get their well child exam are likely to get the shots. But we’re still having a hard time having parents bring their kids in for a separate visit just to get the vaccine,” says Dr. Cavanagh.

New this year: the quadrivalent vaccination. Which protects from four flu strains instead of three. The traditional 3-strain shot is still on the market; both are equally suitable. The flu mist, also approved for kids, is strictly 4-strain.  Ouch-less yes, but the sticking point is minor side effects.

“Kids are more likely to get a low grade fever, a runny nose and some congestion symptoms. Just because we’re spraying something up into their nose and sinuses,” says Dr. Cavanagh.

Better than getting the flu, the way Zuber sees it.

“I’ve had students who have had to go to the hospital because of their symptoms,” says Zuber.

The vaccine takes two weeks to kick in so there’s no time like the present to arm you against the flu.

“It’s quite quick to spread to person to person and really move throughout a community in a brief period of time,” says Dr. Cavanagh.