Kids are back in school, the evening breeze is cool, and your thoughts are turning to Halloween costumes. That can only mean one thing… it’s time for flu vaccines.
The flu vaccine is the best way to prevent you and those around you from getting influenza and its potential complications. That’s why it is not only important to get your children vaccinated, but the adults in the family as well. We, along with the CDC, recommend flu vaccine for anyone 6 months and older. To make this as easy as possible, we have flu clinics available for our patients. Call to schedule for a day that’s convenient for you, and you’ll be in and out!
In addition to the flu vaccine, there are other things you can do to prevent influenza and many other seasonal viruses.
- Get a healthy dose of what I call Vitamin S every day. That means plenty of sleep! Getting enough sleep not only helps mood and learning ability, but it’s also one of the best ways of keeping your immune system strong.
- Teach your children to wash their hands well. Have them rub their hands and make bubbles while singing the alphabet song, being sure to wash all the surfaces of their hands.
- Cover that cough! Covering the mouth and nose with your arm or elbow helps keep those germs from spreading.
Shouldn’t I wait to get my flu shot?
It’s never too soon to get protected against flu! While there are some conflicting studies about how long the flu vaccine protects people over 65, for the rest of us the protection lasts well past influenza season.
I don’t need it… I already had the flu.
First, let’s make sure we’re talking about the same thing. Unfortunately, we use the word flu for two different things. The stomach flu (what we like to call gastroenteritis) is a nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea illness. True influenza is primarily a respiratory illness. Its symptoms are cough, fever that can last up to 8 days, sore throat, and body aches. And you can also have vomiting and diarrhea on top of all that!
Okay, but what if I did already have true influenza?
We still recommend getting the vaccine! There are multiple strains of flu going around each season, and just because you had one strain doesn’t mean you won’t get another one. We see this happen every year, unfortunately.
Doesn’t the flu shot give some people the flu?
Absolutely not! The flu shot contains particles of the killed virus. It is impossible to get the flu from the shot. Any vaccine can give side effects such as fever or body aches, but these are symptoms of your body’s immune system responding to the vaccine. It’s the sign of a well-run immune system!
The FluMist, the nasal spray flu vaccine, is a live virus vaccine. It contains weakened flu virus. This vaccine can give some people mild symptoms such as fever, sore throat, or a sniffly nose. I’ll give you more information about the FluMist in the next post.
The flu shot doesn’t work anyway, so why should I get it?
No vaccine or treatment is ever 100% perfect. The flu vaccine is particularly tricky because every year the strains most likely to cause disease change, those strains can change between the time the vaccine is made and when flu season hits, and there may be strains that can cause disease that aren’t covered in the vaccine. Despite these challenges, flu vaccine is still the best protection we have, preventing millions of influenza illnesses every year, and significantly reduces a child’s risk of dying from influenza complications.