Influenza (also called flu) is a virus that causes symptoms like fever, chills, cough, and body aches. In patients who have weak immune systems, the disease can be severe. The patient might develop breathing problems that require a hospital stay, or the flu could even lead to death.
How can I prevent my child from getting the flu?
The best ways to prevent flu infection are:
- Cleaning hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner,
- Avoiding contact with those who have flu symptoms,
- Taking anti-viral medicines after exposure to people known to have the flu, and
- Getting an annual flu vaccination.
St. Jude provides the seasonal flu vaccine to your child, and depending on how much vaccine is available, the staff offers it to parents, other adult caregivers, and siblings who are 4 years old or older. Having all members of the family vaccinated helps provide a circle of protection around the patient. It is one way to keep the virus from coming close to the patient.
St. Jude infectious disease doctors recommend that all St. Jude patients who are at least 6 months old receive the flu vaccine each year. Children who are allergic to eggs may be able to get the vaccine, but should talk to their doctor first.
Some groups of children need a second dose of the vaccine at least 4 weeks later:
- Children who have never had the flu vaccine before.
- Children who have not received a total of 2 or more doses of the flu vaccine since July 1, 2010.
- Children with weakened immune systems.
- Children in their first year after allogeneic transplant. However, children who are less than 6 months from bone marrow transplant or who have chronic graft-versus-host disease should not receive the flu vaccine.
How is the flu vaccine given?
The flu vaccine comes in two forms: muscle injection (shot) and nasal spray (called Flumist®). The nasal spray is not recommended for St. Jude patients because it contains a live form of the flu virus. Adult caregivers and siblings who will have contact with inpatient transplant patients in the 7 days following vaccination should not receive the nasal spray (Flumist®).
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an information sheet about the side effects of the vaccine.
You can help your child’s doctors and nurses keep track of when your child receives the flu vaccine. This is especially helpful if your child receives care at a St. Jude affiliate clinic.
You can use the space below to record the dates the vaccine was given to your child and your family members.
Child dose #1 (date given): ________________________________________________________________
Child dose #2 (if needed) (date given): _______________________________________________________
Family members and dates given: ___________________________________________________________
This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.
St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.
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