Who needs full flu shot?

Health officials concerned over amount of vaccination for some women, children

As flu season gets underway, health experts are urging everyone to get a flu shot, but they are especially concerned about vaccinating certain high risk groups of people -- including children and pregnant women.

To guard against influenza, a growing number of children are getting a squirt instead of a shot.

"We do now have a nasal mist spray that can be used, and that form is routinely recommended or can be given to any child two years of age and older, who is otherwise healthy," said Dr. Camille Sabella, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Cleveland Clinic.

If your child is under age two, has a weakened immune system or suffers from wheezing, experts said they will need the regular shot.

The flu vaccine is grown in chicken eggs, so people with egg allergies have traditionally been told to avoid flu shots. However, recent studies suggest many children with egg allergies can be safely vaccinated, but be sure to talk to your child's pediatrician and allergist first.

Flu shots are not approved for babies under six months, so it's especially critical for pregnant women to be vaccinated.

"Not only are women more vulnerable to influenza complications during pregnancy, but their babies may be affected by the flu," said Dr. Susan Rehm, an infectious disease specialist from Cleveland Clinic.

Flumist is not an option if you're pregnant, but the regular shot is safe to get any time during pregnancy, during any trimester.

"We know that pregnant women who get vaccinated for the flu have healthier babies. They also pass on their antibodies to the newborn in the first 6 months of life," said Rehm.

Having people around the baby vaccinated also helps. That's called "cocooning."

Experts said flu shots are also critical for other high risk groups, including people with chronic medical problems, anyone age 65 and up and people who live with or care for people considered high risk.

Flu shots are available at most doctors' offices, local health departments and major drug store chains.

To learn more about the influenza vaccine and who should be vaccinated, click here.

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