Flu season is quickly approaching, but we are ready to tackle it with this year’s vaccination. Getting your children the flu shot each year is essential because the virus is constantly evolving, so the vaccine is updated to keep up with the strains predicted to be most prominent in the upcoming season.
Last Year’s Season is No Excuse
As many may recall, the 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst we have seen in a while, but according to the CDC, only about two out of five adults and children in the United States (less than 40% of the population within each age range) received a flu shot by early November 2017 – the beginning of flu season. While last year’s vaccine did not account for one of the strains that ended up causing the most issues, those who did receive the shot were still somewhat protected and, if they did become infected, experienced less severe symptoms and fewer complications.
Who Should Receive the Flu Shot?
It is recommended that everyone aged 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine yearly, except for those with egg allergies or who have had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccine. However, for those with egg allergies, there are alternatives that may be given, so talk with your child’s healthcare provider about other options. In order to protect those who are too young or medically unable to receive the vaccine, all family, friends and caregivers should receive the flu shot to aid in immunity.
What to Expect After the Flu Shot
After receiving the shot, it does take two weeks to provide full protection, so getting your child vaccinated early before the season gets into full swing is recommended. For those medically able to receive, the flu vaccine is safe and will not infect anyone with the virus. Should your child come down with flu symptoms after receiving the vaccine, it is possible he or she was infected prior to, or within that two week window, or has come down with a cold or illness that exhibits similar symptoms. They may experience some side effects, such as soreness at the injection site and possibly a slight fever as the body produces protective antibodies, but both should go away after a day or two. It is also possible to be infected with a different strain of the flu, and while the protection from the vaccine may be slightly less effective, they will still have some protection from the worst of the symptoms.
What if I Decide Not to Vaccinate?
Parents who opt out of getting the flu shot for their children without medical reason are putting the children as well as others at risk for dangerous and potentially fatal complications if infected. The complications are especially dangerous to older adults and young children due to weaker immune systems. Unfortunately, last year’s virus caused 180 pediatric deaths throughout the U.S., which is the highest seen in recent years. Vaccinations are vital in creating protection for not only ourselves, but those around us.
If you do decide not to vaccinate, encourage your children to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly; utilize alcohol-based hand sanitizers; avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth; avoid crowds; and practice healthy habits, such as getting enough sleep, exercise, staying hydrated, eating nutritious foods, and managing stress. Of course, these are great healthy behaviors to practice even with vaccination to help from spreading other germs and bacteria.
Before you know it, flu season will be upon us. Make sure your family is protected. Be prepared and contact us today to get your children vaccinated early.