For children with epilepsy, neurological conditions or on the ketogenic diet, remaining healthy is especially important — and never more so than during influenza season. Influenza (flu) is a virus spread by coughing, sneezing, or being in close contact with someone who has the virus.
Clinicians at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) recommend that everyone eligible should get the flu vaccine. Contracting the flu could increase complications with epilepsy, such as an increase in seizures. The best way to protect your child is to have them vaccinated, as well other members in the household.
In addition, good hand hygiene with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitizer and proper cough techniques (cough/sneeze into a tissue or in your upper sleeve or elbow if you do not have a tissue) are also encouraged to prevent the spread of the flu.
Those with neurological conditions should only receive the flu vaccine by receiving a shot. This version of the vaccine is “dead” or inactivated and cannot cause you to get sick, whereas the nasal spray flu vaccine is a “live” or active weakened virus which can lead to side effects that mimic a cold such as runny nose, fever, or sore throat.
Children age 6 months to 8 years old who are receiving the flu vaccine for the first time require two doses, approximately four weeks apart, to provide optimal coverage. Learn more about the flu vaccine and resources available for families.