The flu vaccine - Protection from the flu, peace of mind for you

As a parent, you do everything you can to protect your children. Buckle them up in the car. Watch them closely when they're in the water. Teach them to look both ways when they cross the street. Warn them not to talk to strangers.

How about making sure they get the flu vaccine? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend everyone 6 months and older get the flu vaccine every year. That includes children from tiny to teen.

Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent flu. For children younger than 5 years of age and those with chronic health conditions, like asthma and diabetes, getting the flu vaccine is especially important to avoid serious flu complications like pneumonia, which can lead to hospitalization and even death. About 20,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized each year from flu complications. Flu can also make some health conditions worse.

Babies younger than 6 months are too young to get the flu vaccine, but they are at higher risk for complications and death from flu. Because of this, it is important that family members and other people that care for young infants get vaccinated to help ensure that they don't transmit the infection to them.

"It's important that all family members and caregivers get the flu vaccine to 'cocoon' infants," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC's Director of the National Cent er for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The 2009 H1N1 flu (so named for the year the virus was identified) hit children particularly hard last year, and that virus is expected to be around again this year. The 2010-11 flu vaccine includes protection against the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, along with two seasonal flu viruses expected to circulate this season.

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