Do flu shots really work for kids? 7 important facts to know from doctors

Do flu shots really work for kids? 7 important facts to know from doctors
Dr. Rosemary Robbins says the flu shot is safe and effective. (Source: WOIO)
Dr. Rosemary Robbins says the flu shot is safe and effective. (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Four children in Ohio have died from the flu as the area enters the peak of the season and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the flu shot is 48 percent effective this season.

Children died from the flu in Cuyahoga, Columbiana and Fulton Counties.

Health department officials and commissioners from all three counties said they do not know if the children had a flu shot. It's the family's choice to tell health officials whether their daughter or son who died from the flu actually got the vaccination or not.

Pre-existing conditions may have made the children more vulnerable to the flu.

Some autopsies have not been completed yet, according to the coroners and medical examiners in Cuyahoga Columbiana and Fulton Counties.

One of the children had another medical condition that contributed to their death. Doctors discovered 6-year-old Eva Harris of Rocky River had a rare disease called ADEM, after she was diagnosed with the flu.

Pediatricians said the most important thing parents can do to protect their children is to get the flu shot. Children 6 months and older can get the vaccination.

Michelle Scianna said she didn't hesitate to get her 22-month-old child, Claire, a flu shot this year.

"My first thinking was, she's in day care, so I knew it was important for her to get the flu shot, especially since she's around so many kids throughout the day," Scianna said.

Michelle works at West End Pediatrics in Lakewood and said she's been keeping an eye on the reports of child deaths from the flu across the state.

"I've seen what the flu can do to kids and how devastating it can be," she said.

1. The first question many parents ask is simple: Is the flu shot safe?

Dr. Rosemary Robbins with West End Pediatrics said simply that it is.

"It is extremely safe. It's been researched with thousands of people and it's highly recommended by the CDC and Advisory Committee on Immunizations, American Academy of Pediatrics. And in my 20 years of giving flu shots, I've never had a problem," Robbins said.

2. So when should you and your child get the flu shot?

Doctors say not to wait for flu season to pick up and shots should be administered by the end of October.

3. How long does it take to work?

It takes two weeks to build immunity.

4. How long does the flu season last?

Flu season can last until May, so it's not too late to get one for your child this season.

5. What puts children more at risk for getting the flu?

Children with chronic health conditions are also more at risk for the flu.

Those include asthma, heart disease, immune system problems and some blood disorders.

The CDC says it's pretty rare for children to die from the flu.

It tracks those deaths every year. Click here for interactive graphs and data.

6. What are the flu stats?

The CDC reports over 100 children died from the flu during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 flu seasons.

That number dropped just below 90 the next flu season. So far this season, almost 30 children have died from the flu.

7. How effective is the flu shot?

The CDC reports this season's flu shot is 48 percent effective. Doctors are still suggesting people get the shot.

Here's another reason to get the flu shot -- doctors say even if you wind up getting the flu, you will have milder symptoms.

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