Children in general are very susceptible to transferring the virus of influenza. And usually when someone in the family gets it, it would usually be a child who then quickly transmits it to everyone else in the family.
In general, if you look at the process and kinetics of the flu developing in a body and spreading to other individuals, they are more likely to get a flu virus and then they are more likely to transmit it to other people, because they shed virus at rather high titers. Also, children are at higher risk for complications, especially if they are under two years of age.
Therefore, it is really important that parents vaccinate their children if their children are over 6 months old.
You definitely don't want your child to come down with the flue and then get complications from it, and even more so, you don't want the child to go around and transmit the virus in the family or to other children around.
The flu symptoms in children are not necessarily more severe than in adults, it's just that they are a little different. Usually in an adult, first what you think with the flu is a sudden onset of high fever, usually cough, sore, tickling throat, body aches and so on. In children, on the other hand, high fever is common, but cough is not as much, there may be upper respiratory type symptoms, and diarrhea and vomiting is much more profound.
The flu vaccines that are produced now are comparatively very safe. They are all thimerosal-free vaccines that are available for younger infants, and older children have really no problems tolerating these vaccines. Preservative thimerosal, the organomercury compound, was used in vaccines since early 20th century for the purpose of preventing bacteria and fungi from growing and contaminating multi-dose vials.
According to the U.S. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention:
“Over the past several years, because of an increasing awareness of the theoretical potential for neurotoxicity of even low levels of organomercurials and because of the increased number of thimerosal containing vaccines that had been added to the infant immunization schedule, concerns about the use of thimerosal in vaccines and other products have been raised. Indeed, because of these concerns, the Food and Drug Administration has worked with, and continues to work with, vaccine manufacturers to reduce or eliminate thimerosal from vaccines. Now, all vaccines recommended for kids ages 6 and younger do not contain thimerosal.”
If you live outside the United States, that must be the first thing you should find out about the vaccine before administering it to your child. But even then you should not discard the option if vaccine contains this preservative since, in the recent years, there have been several studies that failed to prove any possible harm of it.
According to the American Academy of Pediatricians' statement, the Federal Drugs Administration did a thorough evidence of potential health risks from thimerosal in 1999, and "found no evidence of harm from the use of thimerosal as a vaccine preservative, other than local hypersensitivity reactions.”
For example, there is some trace amount of thimerasol in the US vaccines for older children, although the amount of thimerosal in them is very minimal (one miligram or less per dose) and it does not have documented serious side-effects.
Children, ideally, should be vaccinated in October; however, if the vaccine is available at an earlier time, in the end of August or September, you should get your children vaccinated at that time. Even if you don't do it in October, it is never too late to get the vaccine. Most years, the peak flu season lasts from the start of December to the end of March.
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