Should Your Immunocompromised Child Get A Flu Shot?

Posted on: 7 April 2017

If your child has a medical condition that impacts his or her immune system -- from sickle-cell anemia to an auto-immune disorder like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis -- you may be wondering whether it's safe for him or her to receive inoculation against the flu virus or whether a flu shot could cause more problems than it prevents. While this can be a tough decision for any parent, there are now a number of scientific factors you and your child's physician will be able to weigh when debating the relative utility of a flu shot. Read on to learn more about how flu shots are processed by the body, as well as what you'll want to consider when deciding whether your child should have a flu shot this year.

How do flu shots protect against the flu? 

The flu shot can be administered through an injection or even through a nasal spray. Both versions of the vaccine contain dead or dying pathogens from the flu virus -- once this dead virus enters your child's body, his or her immune system will respond by creating antibodies to fight this flu virus. If your child is later exposed to the same flu virus included in the vaccine, he or she will already have the necessary antibodies to send the virus packing.

However, there are usually several strains of flu virus spreading through the population at any given time, and the flu vaccine may not prevent against each possible type of flu. Generally, the flu vaccine will focus only on the one or two strains that seem to be most prevalent (or result in the most complications for affected patients).

In addition, the effectiveness of a flu shot can vary among those with compromised immune systems, as the immune system's response to the vaccine may be weakened, preventing your child from developing all the antibodies he or she will need to keep from getting the flu. 

What should you consider when deciding whether a flu shot is a good idea for your immunocompromised child? 

The decision to get a flu shot can depend upon the specifics of your child's immune system. In many cases, even if the flu shot won't be as effective for your child as it would be for a non-immunocompromised child, the health risks of contracting the flu may outweigh the risk that the vaccine won't be quite as effective as intended.

It's important to make sure your child receives the flu vaccine on a day when he or she is feeling healthy and isn't dealing with any other communicable ailments. This can ensure that your child will be able to send all of his or her immune resources toward flu-fighting rather than spreading too thin by battling pathogens on multiple fronts.

When you're ready for your child's flu shot, head to a place like Jeff's Prescription Shop.