Out with the flu spray, in with the shot

4 tips for you and your child to survive the shot experience

Parents, brace yourselves: The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a new policy statement recommending against the use of the flu nasal spray vaccine. This means your child can expect a flu shot this fall.

Why? Over the past three flu seasons, the nasal spray vaccine failed to protect against some of the most prominent strains of the flu virus. And the effectiveness of the nasal spray was only 3 percent last year, while the injection was 63 percent effective.

“Children age 6 months and older need to receive the flu shot to help protect against getting the flu,” said Amy L. Garlove, M.D., pediatrician, Norton Children’s Hospital Medical Associates – Brownsboro. “If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s very important to get the shot because it will help protect your baby in those first six months.”

The start of the flu season often is unpredictable, so pediatricians recommend your child get the flu shot as soon as it is available, usually starting in mid-September.

“The flu can actually cause serious issues, even in children who are usually healthy,” Dr. Garlove said. “The sooner you can get your child immunized, the better.”

Here are tips to make the flu shot experience easier for you and your child:

1. Don’t lie. If your child is going to get a shot, let him or her know. But be honest that it will only hurt for a few seconds.

2. Distract. During the shot itself, try singing, counting or focusing on something in the room, like a picture or book. Have your child describe what he or she sees.

3. Cough or blow out. When the needle is being inserted, have your child cough or blow. Research has shown this can help some people feel less pain.

4. Offer a reward. Sometimes the thought of the positive at the end of the visit can help your child focus on something other than the shot. Think 10 extra minutes of screen time, a sticker or a visit to the library.

See more about why kids need a flu shot

Once you’re protected, you still need to teach your children how to prevent illness. Start with this trick for germ-free hands.


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