Hey guys! School is in full force and the cool weather is here. So, do you know what that means? That’s correct, flu season! Thousands of Baldwin County school children have missed numerous school days in the past few years and it’s going to start early this year! Let’s review the flu vaccine and how it may affect your family this year!
The flu vaccine is recommended for any child aged 6 months to 19 years and for any adult persons aged >19 years; women who will be pregnant during the influenza season; persons who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular, renal, hepatic, hematological or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus); persons who have immunosuppressant (caused by medications or by HIV); persons who have any neurological condition that can compromise respiratory function or the handling of respiratory secretions or that can increase the risk for aspiration; residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities; health-care personnel; household contacts and caregivers of children aged <5 years and adults aged >50 years, with particular emphasis on vaccinating contacts of children aged <6 months; and, household contacts and caregivers of persons with medical conditions that put them at high risk for severe complications from influenza (cdc.gov).
So basically, anybody over 6 months of age and anyone who takes care of a child, especially under 6 months old, should get the vaccine. So, what are your options? There used to be two main types: the shot or the intranasal spray. However, they found out over the past few years that the flu mist did not really work at all, so it’s not even available! So- the shot is the way to go. The only reasons to not get one are if anyone is allergic to the flu shot itself or currently has a febrile illness. Of course, discuss any of these options with your healthcare provider.
The last thing to talk about is the reasons why people elect to not get vaccinated. Of course, the choice is yours, but I really encourage my parents to get vaccinated, especially if they have children under 6 months of age. While an adult might claim “I never had the flu shot and I’ve never had the flu!,” anything is possible and you might be putting your child at risk. The other question I hear frequently is about the flu vaccine not working! The flu vaccine each year is composed of the flu strains that are predicted to be the most common culprits for the disease. Unfortunately, since the vaccine cannot contain every possible strain, there have been years where the vaccine wasn’t as effective as past years. Every year, there are a few patients who received the flu shot, but still got the flu. But, we have had a lot more with the flu who did not have the vaccine at all! However, it was interesting that people who did receive the flu vaccine and still got the flu had significantly less symptoms and serious complications than those who did not receive the vaccine. And, last, but not least, you cannot get the flu from the flu shot!
So, I encourage you all to go to www.cdc.gov/flu and check out the numerous links about flu symptoms, flu treatments and medications. Never hesitate to talk to your local healthcare provider about this or any other topic and remember- flu shots are safe and do work! Flu shots are already arriving at doctor offices now, so call and get fixed up today! And, remember to wash your hands.