It is flu season once again in South Africa and with the added concern of Covid-19, the flu vaccine has been punted as especially important this time around.
However, while the flu shot won’t protect you against Covid-19, it will go a long way buffering you against the risk of respiratory infection caused by influenza virus.
And the flu shot is not just for adults – medical experts say it is safe for anyone from six months of age and older.
Canadian paediatrician advice website Caring for Kids says babies and children six months to nine years of age who have never had a flu shot will need two doses of the vaccine, given at least four weeks apart – while kids who’ve had one or more doses of the regular seasonal flu shot in the past will only need one dose per year.
But, as all parents who have taken their little ones for a shot know, kids don’t like injections any more than adults do.
Here are are some tips to help parents take the sting out of infections for kids:
• Sit them down ahead of time and let them know that the shot will sting a little, but will help a lot more.
• Let your child know exactly what to expect and why he should be brave and sit still. Use their favourite teddy to mimic the experience.
• Reassure your child that you’ll be at their side the entire time and that he can sit on your lap while getting the shot.
• Find out if your doctor is able to use a local anaesthetic to help ease the pain.
• Bringing their favourite toy or reading to them from their favourite book can help distract them as the shot is administered.
• You also need to remain calm. Children pick up easily that parents are worried.
• Some research suggests that encouraging the child to cough as the needle enters the skin may also help to reduce pain.
• You will score major points by having something fun (like ice cream or the favourite restaurant) planned for after the appointment.
Remember: The best time to get your flu vaccine in South Africa is before the end of April. However, if you missed this period, the vaccine can still be taken at any time during the winter season. Better late than never.