It’s that time of the year. Get protected from the flu!


Guess what? Flu vaccines do not cause the flu.

The kick-off of the 2015-2016 flu season is upon us. To head influenza off at the pass and protect your children, it’s time to put flu protection on your to-do list, and Stanford Medicine Children’s Health is here to help.

Flu vaccines, both in shots and nasal spray, are available at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health locations throughout the Bay Area. At Stanford Medicine Children’s Health Pediatrics – Los Gatos  and South Bascom Pediatrics, Claire Del Signore, MD, and her colleagues are even offering flu shot clinics on nights and weekends to make it easier for parents to stop by with their children.

The evidence is clear. Flu vaccines are safe and necessary. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children and adolescents who are 6 months and older be immunized annually, especially children who are at a high risk of influenza complications (“eg., asthma, diabetes mellitus and compromised immune systems”).

For parents who are still on the fence, it may be because they mistakenly believe that the vaccine will cause the flu and they may not realize how severe the flu can become, said Del Signore.

“If someone gets sick after the flu shot, it’s because they’ve had something brewing and it’s not the shot,” explained the doctor, who touts the safety of vaccinations. “I also remind parents that getting the flu can be serious, and that there are over 100 influenza deaths in children every year alone.”

The facts. What is influenza?

Influenza is a contagious viral illness that affects your child’s breathing system and can spread to affect their entire body. Signs that your child has influenza include:

  • A fever usually above 101 degrees Fahrenheit that develops suddenly
  • Body aches, headache, chills and being more tired than normal
  • Sore throat
  • Dry, hacking cough and/or a stuffy, runny nose

Inactivated influenza vaccine shot versus FluMist: What’s the difference?

The flu vaccine clinics at Silicon Valley Pediatrics and South Bascom Pediatricians, and those throughout the Stanford Medicine Children’s Health network, are offering both the flu shot, which is the inactivated influenza vaccine, and FluMist, a nasal spray that contains the live attenuated influenza vaccine. Both are equally effective.

The flu shot is given by injection and contains inactivated or a killed form of the flu virus. All children who are eligible to receive the flu vaccine can be given the injection form.

When it comes to the nasal spray vaccine, FluMist, it’s a different story. FluMist is a vaccine option only for healthy children who are 2 years old and up. Both the flu shot and the FluMist contain the 2015-2016 quadrivalent formulation, immunizing children from four different influenza virus strains.

How many doses of the flu vaccine do children need?

“In order to be considered fully vaccinated, a child between 6-months-old and 8-years-old needs two doses of the flu vaccine during the first flu season that the child is being vaccinated. After that they would only need one shot the following flu season as the body has already mounted an immune response,” Del Signore said.

Children 6 months through 8 years old who have received two doses of the vaccine before July 1, 2015, whether or not they were given both doses during the same or consecutive influenza seasons, only require one dose of the shot this season.

Dr. Del Signore’s prescription for flu prevention in children and parents includes:

  • Maintaining good hygiene, covering your cough and washing your hands after you have touch things in the classroom or on the playground
  • Making sure your children are not sharing food or drinks with each other and washing their hand’s frequently
  • Keeping your child home from school, if your child is feeling sick
  • Getting the flu vaccine!

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes to prevent germs from spreading. Also, the CDC recommends that you disinfect any objects or surfaces that may be contaminated with germs.

“Each year’s vaccine is based on which viruses are making people sick, and how well the prior year’s vaccine protected against those viruses. There are over 100 influenza centers worldwide working to help determine the components of each year’s vaccine, Del Signore said. “Your child may become seriously ill from the flu and run the risk of infecting others who may not have the immune system to combat against influenza.  Lost time from school and work may be significant in more prolonged cases of influenza.”

Flu vaccine clinics at South Bascom Pediatrics and Silicon Valley Pediatricians will be held starting November 4, and a schedule is listed below. Or, visit a Stanford Medicine Children’s Health location near you at. All Stanford Medicine Children’s Health primary care clinics will have flu vaccines available.

Stanford Medicine Children’s Health – South Bascom Pediatrics

Date: Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Time: 5:30-7:30PM

Location: 15899 Los Gatos – Almaden Rd, Ste4, Los Gatos, CA 95032

Pediatrician: Christianne Strickland, MD

Date: Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

Time: 5:30-7:30PM

Location: 15899 Los Gatos – Almaden Rd, Ste4, Los Gatos, CA 95032

Pediatrician: Patricia Ferrari, MD, PhD

Stanford Medicine Children’s Health – Silicon Valley Pediatricians

Date: Saturday, November 14th, 2015

Time: 9:00am-12:00pm

Location: 2505 Samaritan Drive, Suite 607, San Jose, CA 95124

Pediatrician: Claire Del Signore, MD

Date:  Wednesday, November 28th, 2015

Time: 9:00am-12:00pm

Location: 2505 Samaritan Drive, Suite 607, San Jose, CA 95124

Pediatrician: Christine Halaburka, MD

Find comprehensive information about influenza on our Stanford Medicine Children’s Health website at


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