Kids Health Watch is brought to you by our friends and Magnolia Springs Pediatrics
Hey guys! Well, here we are in 2024, and while Covid is still here, we are now inundated with flu, RSV, and other viruses. Let’s review the flu vaccine and how it may affect your family this year!
The flu shot is recommended for any child aged six 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; healthcare 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, anybody over six months of age and anyone caring for a child, especially under six months old, should get the vaccine. What are your options? The flu shot is most common, approved for six months and above. 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 discuss is why people elect not to get vaccinated. Of course, the choice is yours, but I encourage my parents to get vaccinated, especially if they have children under six months. 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. Each year, the flu vaccine comprises the flu strains 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 in past years.
Every year, a few patients receive the flu shot but still get the flu. But we have had many more people with the flu who did not have the vaccine! However, it was interesting that people who did receive the flu vaccine and still got the flu had significantly fewer 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, go to www.cdc.gov/flu and check out numerous links about flu symptoms, treatments, and medications. Never hesitate to talk to your local healthcare provider about this or any other topic.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).