Unfortunately, it is flu season here in Georgia and flu can be a very serious illness, even in previously healthy children. It can lead to serious complications resulting in pneumonia, hospitalizations, and sadly even death. The best way to protect your child from the flu is to vaccinate him or her and encourage everyone around him or her to do the same.
Who should get the vaccine?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the flu shot for everyone ages 6 months of age and up every flu season. The first year that a child receives a flu shot (up through age 8), they need two doses, separated by at least 4 weeks. At our practice, we offer the influenza vaccine rather than the flumist (nasal spray) because it has been found to be more effective in past years and it is still the preferred vaccine for the 2018-2019 season according to the AAP.
Can you get the actual flu from the flu shot?
The most common side effect of the flu shot is soreness at the sight of injection. Low-grade fever, headache, and muscle aches are less common but can also occur for a few days after getting the shot; however, there is no live flu virus in the vaccine and it cannot actually cause you to get the flu.
But, sometimes it doesn’t seem to work…
Each year, flu viruses change and the vaccine is formulated to protect from the types of flu that are expected to cause disease in the upcoming year. Some years the flu shot works better than others at preventing disease; however, even if it doesn’t prevent your child from getting the flu, it can make the illness less severe and decrease chances of hospitalization. And, the good news this year is that preliminary data shows that the flu vaccine seems to be a good match this year to the circulating strains.
So, what should I do?
It takes about 2 weeks from vaccination for your body’s immune response to fully be ready to fight off the flu. So, if you or your kiddos haven’t yet gotten yours, call our office and schedule an appointment today. We offer the flu shot to parents as well. And, if you already have gotten yours, thank you for taking important steps to protect your children and others in our community!