A Little More Wisdom
Why You and Your Child Should Get The Flu Vaccine
Written by September 11th, 2019on
Now that the temperatures are dropping and the flu season is here, it is the time to think about getting the flu vaccine. The flu season typically runs from December/January until early spring. Last year was such a long flu season with flu popping up in mid-October and lasting until the beginning of April, so I am hopeful that this year might be a different story. The problem is, you just never know what to expect.
The Vaccine is the Best Way to Prevent the Flu
If you really have never had the flu you are both fortunate and lucky. But luck does not prevent influenza or complications from the flu. As a parent you always want to protect your child, and giving them a flu vaccine is one of the best ways to prevent the flu. The flu causes not only fever, body aches, cough, congestion and sore throat, but in little ones it may cause more serious complications requiring hospitalization. Sadly, in 2017 alone, over 150 children died from complications related to the flu.
The best advice to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine! The recommendation is that everyone over the age of 6 months of age should receive a flu vaccine.
Vaccinated People Present Fewer Complications
Some people say “the flu vaccine does not always prevent the flu” and this is a correct statement. There is a new flu vaccine manufactured each year and the vaccine contains four different strains of influenza. The strains are selected by looking at circulating viruses in the southern hemisphere which are typically the same viruses we seen in the northern hemisphere during the winter months. It is a highly educated guess to predict which strains to include in the yearly flu vaccine. But, even when the vaccine is not a perfect match, there is good data to show that all that have received flu vaccine have less severe cases of the flu and fewer complications.
Protect Your Baby and Your Family
Flu vaccine is especially important if your child is under 6 months of age. A baby does not get vaccinated against the flu until they are 6 months old, so they are especially vulnerable to influenza and its side effects. By immunizing everyone around the baby (parents, grandparents, siblings, babysitters, day care workers, teachers, doctors and nurses), we are trying to put a protective shield around infants. The flu is a highly contagious virus, so the more people that are vaccinated the less chance of the baby being exposed.
Pregnant Women Also Need the Vaccine
Another group that needs the flu vaccine are pregnant women. By vaccinating expectant mothers during their 3rd trimester, some of the antibodies are transferred across the placenta to the unborn baby. This is very important for infants who are born during the winter months and are too young to be immunized. If you are pregnant make sure to ask your obstetrician about being vaccinated and help protect yourself as well as your baby.
When to get the Vaccine
The vaccine will last throughout the flu season, so there’s no such thing as too early to get a flu vaccine. When is it too late? Once you have the flu! Don’t be caught off guard - get everyone in your home vaccinated as soon as you can and protect your family.
*Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician based in Dallas, Texas. Following her residency at U.T. Southwestern Medical Center and Children's Medical Center Dallas, Dr. Sue has continued to practice in Dallas for more than 25 years. Little Remedies has teamed up with Dr Sue to answer your questions - check out the Ask Dr Sue page on our website.