WRITER: JESSIE ROLPHCONTACT: DAVE PEDERSEN
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8032; fax (319) 384-4638
Release:Oct. 7, 2002
UI pediatrician urges flu shots for young children
A University of Iowa pediatrician is urging parents of children ages 6 months
to 23 months to have their children vaccinated for influenza this fall.
The recommendation by Jody Murph, M.D., UI associate professor of pediatrics,
reinforces Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines stating
that children in this age group should receive flu shots. According to the
CDC, children ages 6 months to 23 months are at a greater risk for flu-related
"Even if your child is healthy, it is a good idea to schedule a flu
shot to maintain the child's health, prevent serious disease or hospitalization,
and help prevent the spread of influenza to others," Murph said.
The National Immunization Program (NIP) of the CDC also recommends that household
contacts and out-of-home caregivers for children younger than age 2 get the
vaccine to prevent exposing young infants and toddlers to the flu. While children
under 6 months old cannot receive influenza vaccinations, they can catch the
flu, which can pose serious health risks for infants.
The NIP recommends that children ages 6 months to 23 months, as well as caregivers
and people who have household contact with a child, should receive the vaccination
in October or November, although December is not too late. Children from 6
months to 8 years old who receive a flu shot for the first time will also
need a booster shot one month after the first shot. Therefore, to best ensure
protection against the flu, parents should have their children vaccinated
as early as possible, Murph said.
According to the CDC, in addition to children ages 6 months to 23 months,
other groups at higher risk from flu-related complications or severe illness
include: adults age 65 and older; adults and children with chronic health
problems such as asthma, kidney disease, heart disease or diabetes; adults
or children with HIV/AIDS or those receiving medical treatment that can weaken
the immune system (such as chemotherapy); children who are receiving long-term
aspirin therapy; and women who will be at least three months pregnant during
the flu season.
However, almost everyone can benefit from a flu shot, Murph noted.
"The flu vaccine is the most effective way to protect against influenza
and its complications," she said.
For more information on flu vaccinations, visit the CDC Web site at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/fluvirus.htm.
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