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Teen, with asthma, should be given a flu shot soon

Q: I know that young babies and the elderly should get a flu shot, but I wonder whether I should get one for my 14-year-old son. He has asthma.

A: Flu shots are not just for little children and the elderly. Your son is a perfect example of the kind of teen-ager who would also benefit from this immunization. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the influenza vaccine for any adolescent with chronic pulmonary disease (like asthma or cystic fibrosis), significant heart disease, sickle cell disease or who is receiving immunosuppressive therapy.

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Other adolescents who may benefit from this immunization are those with kidney problems, who take aspirin on a regular basis, and who have symptoms from HIV infection.

The AAP also recommends vaccinating adolescents and adults living in a household with a child for whom influenza infection would be a serious health problem.

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In general, adolescents without chronic diseases do not need to be immunized. Since influenza season will soon be with us (it usually comes around this month), your son should get his immunization soon.

Dr. Wilson is director of general pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Dr. Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.



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