Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by Children’s Hospital.
The Flu Shot: Why it’s Important for your Entire Family!
Did you know that 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized for flu complications every year in the United States? Last year alone, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported 140 flu-related pediatric deaths.
What can you do to protect your family? Get vaccinated! Flu season can start as early as September and the flu has already started to show up in samples taken in the New Orleans area.
Who needs the flu vaccine?
Infants under 6 months of age are the most susceptible and cannot be immunized, so it’s important to vaccinate the rest of your family. All will benefit, including those who are less vulnerable, as they will be protected against the severe events and will benefit from less absences from school or work.
There are special populations who are at increased risk and especially need the vaccine:
- Children and adults with conditions that increase their risk of complications from the flu, such as asthma
- Adults who provide care for children at high risk and children younger than 5 and especially infants under 6 months
- Doctors, nurses, other health care workers and all child care providers and staff
- All women who are pregnant are considering pregnancy, are in the postpartum period or are breastfeeding during the flu season
Is the flu vaccine safe?
Flu vaccines are safe and have been extensively tested. They come in two forms:
- Shots that can be given to ages 6 months and older and
- Live vaccine nasal spray which can be given to ages 3 years and older
Some children may require two doses of the flu vaccine. Check with your pediatrician to learn more as well as the contra-indications to receiving the flu vaccine.
Where can you get the flu vaccine?
For children under the age of 7, they must go to a doctor’s office to receive their flu vaccine. The rest of the family can go to retail pharmacies, such as Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid. You can even take an UBER in New Orleans to get your flu shot! To find locations closest to you, use the CDC’s Healthmap Vaccine Finder.
Flu Vaccine: Better late than never.
While flu outbreaks typically start in October, the peak of flu season is not until January or later, right in time for Mardi Gras or the big family trip to Disney World. It takes about two weeks after the vaccination for antibodies to develop that protect against the flu virus, so now is the time to protect your family!
What to do if you suspect your child has the flu?
You need to call your pediatrician! If your child contracts flu (rapid test positive) before getting immunized, you have the option to give Tamiflu if the child is more than 2 weeks old and has had symptoms for less than 2 days.
Signs your child may have the flu:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
To learn more about the flu vaccine and risks in children, visit the CDC website.
**The information contained in this blog post is for networking and informational purposes only, and should not be used to replace the relationship that exists between you and your child’s healthcare provider. Please contact your healthcare provider for specific medical advice and/or treatment recommendations. **
About Dr. Paul Remedios
Dr. Paul Remedios recently joined Children’s Pediatrics and provides pediatric primary care at Napoleon Pediatrics, with office locations Uptown and Metairie. He received his medical training and education at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. WHO DAT & GEAUX TIGERS!
For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Remedios, please call (504) 897-4242.