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The Influenza Vaccine Protects Children

December 5, 2012 by HealthyFamilies BC

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Today’s blogger is Dr. Perry Kendall. He’s BC’s Provincial Health Officer. He has a passion for public health and was awarded the Order of British Columbia for his contributions to Public Health practice and to harm reduction policy and practice in BC. Thanks for joining us Dr. Kendall!

Previously, I wrote about the importance of the flu shot and how it could help those at heightened risk and avoid serious illness. This time, I want to talk about kids and the flu.We know that children pick up illnesses at school, daycare or out on the playground. They often bring these germs home to share. These minor illnesses are usually nothing more than a runny nose or cold.

However, with the flu (influenza) - especially for young children - these germs can be serious. Nobody likes to see kids get an injection, but vaccinations save lives. Studies show young children are at greater risk for developing a serious influenza illness or severe complications. That’s why we’ve increased the free flu shot to children ages six months to five years. Parents and caregivers of these children are also eligible for free vaccines.

A recent US study shows that in the last eight years, more than 100 children die annually from influenza related illness, and 43 per cent of those were children who were healthy. Those are frightening numbers - when you consider that flu shots can reduce the risk dramatically.

Remember, to teach your children how to wash their hands to help reduce germs and keep them home when they’re sick. You know your child best - if you’re concerned that they’re ill, take them to your pediatrician or call 8-1-1 for 24-hour nurse support.

To find a flu clinic, check the flu clinic locator at ImmunizeBC.ca. Flu shots are available at your family physician or public health clinics. Specially licensed pharmacists are also able to provide flu shots; however, they’re not able to immunize children under five.

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