Should my asthmatic child get the H1N1 vaccine?

stockphotopro_25908644ZRP_girl_using_an_We’ve received a lot of questions from parents who want to know if the H1N1 vaccine is safe for children with asthma and what complications could result if an asthmatic child is infected with H1N1. We consulted with Children’s Hospital Boston’s associate chief of general pediatrics, Joanne Cox, MD, and reviewed the latest reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bring you the most recent information.

Is the H1N1 vaccine safe for my child with asthma?

Children with asthma or a reactive airways disease should receive the H1N1 vaccine shot, not the H1N1 nasal spray vaccine. The nasal-spray flu vaccine is approved for use only in healthy people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.

Is my asthmatic child at a higher risk of infection with H1N1?

If your child has asthma, she is at higher risk for developing complications from the swine flu or needing to be hospitalized. These complications are generally bacterial infections, such as ear infections, sinusitis or pneumonia.

What should I do if my asthmatic child is infected with H1N1?

Your child’s asthma symptoms may also increase while she is ill. It is important to monitor her symptoms and adjust her asthma medications if cough or wheezing develops. An asthma action plan can help you do this. If your child can’t catch her breath or develops severe cough or wheezing, she should be checked for complications. You can also talk to your child’s doctor about Tamiflu, an anti-viral medication that can decrease duration and severity of symptoms if started within 48 hours of onset of symptoms.

As a final note, if your child has a specific medical condition, her pediatrician is the best person to consult about whether or not your child should receive the H1N1 vaccine.

For more information about the flu, visit Children’s Flu Information Center and  the CDC.