Knoxville (WVLT) - The Centers for Disease Control recommends all children need a flu vaccine. Until now, only very small children have been regularly vaccinated.
Volunteer TV's Liz Tedone has the details.
Here's the panel's thinking on this. Each year there are about 36,000 deaths attributed to the flu, but only 25 to 50 of them occur in children. Why? Because kids tend not to get as sick as their parents, but all the more reason to vaccinate a larger group of them.
"There are people we don't even test because we see it in families, so we say one person had it and everybody has it," said Dr. Michael Green from Trinity Medical Center.
It's called the trickle down effect, and that's what the CDC panel considered as it's recommending all children six months to 18 years old be vaccinated against the flu.
"They are so good at spreading the flu virus, so they go to school and they mix and match and obviously take that back to their parents and other siblings," Dr. Green said.
Until now, the CDC recommended flu vaccine for those considered to be in high risk categories - all children under five and adults fifty and older, but the panel discovered children under 18 get the flu at higher rates than the other age groups. They just don't tend to get as sick from it, but they are the biggest carriers.
Locally, doctors like Michael Green are swamped with sick patients. Even though the flu vaccine fights three main strains of the virus, you can still get the flu. Still, he says there's no harm in getting a shot.
"I strongly recommend everybody get a flu vaccination. There's really not a downside. The flu vaccine doesn't cause the flu, there's minimum effects, you get a sore arm. You don't get the flu so it's really a good idea for everybody to get the flu vaccination," Dr. Green said.
It's not too late to get a flu shot or Flumist vaccine. Doctors expect flu cases to pop up well into April this year.