Hey guys! Well, here we are in 2022 and the Covid pandemic is still here! But one thing we have seen in addition to Covid, strep throat and the crud is the flu! Let’s review the flu vaccine and how it may affect your family this year.
The flu shot 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 immunosuppression (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? The most common is the flu shot which is approved for 6 months and above. There is also an intranasal spray. This is not as commonly used and has lots of restrictions. Your best bet is to talk to your healthcare provider about the flu vaccine and what might be right for you.
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 at doctor’s offices now, so call and get fixed up today! And, remember to wash your hands.
Robert L. Rux, M.D. is a Board Certified Pediatrician at Magnolia Springs Pediatrics. Originally from Mobile, he attended medical school at The University of Alabama School of Medicine (UAB) and completed residency at The Children’s Hospital of Alabama (UAB). He is married to Jaime and has three children, Adler, Walker and Mary McAtee.