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Immunizations for Children with Heart Problems

Immunizations are given to infants and children to protect them from serious illnesses such as diptheria, hepatitis, whooping cough, polio and others. The timely use of immunizations in children with heart disease is very important as it is for all children. For the most part, the usual guidelines apply and children with heart problems get the same immunizations at the same time as other children. Children can get their immunizations at the doctor's office or the public health department where the shots are often given free of charge. It is best to postpone routine immunizations in children who have a fever or a severe respiratory infection. Children who are having heart surgery should not have the measles-mumps-rubella immunization within 10 days of their surgery and it is best to avoid all immunizations the week before and for 4-6 weeks after heart surgery.

Children with some heart problems such as heart failure, congested lungs, or cyanosis (sy-ah-NO-sis), and children who have had a heart transplant are at increased risk for influenza. Influenza can cause life-threatening pneumonia in these children so they should receive the influenza vaccine each year. Influenza most often occurs between October and April. Children, from 6 months to 12 years of age need two shots, unless they have had an influenza vaccine before. In this case, only one shot may be necessary. It is best to give the shots during the months of September, October, or November.

2006: Information reviewed and approved by Laura Bell, RN, MSN, PNP Pediatric Cardiac Surgery and Lynda Dettling RN, BSN.


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