If you turned on the news this week, you likely saw the big headlines about flu. It’s here and, according to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s widespread in 25 states. If this is any indication of what to expect this year, it’s going to be a long flu season.
- Get vaccinated…you and your children.
- Spread the word to family and neighbors to also get vaccinated.
It’s not too late (the season lasts until April) and getting a vaccine is more convenient than ever with many pharmacies, supermarkets and urgent care centers offering flu shots, in addition to your doctor’s office.
While the vaccine is your most effective defense, there is a possibility that you or your children might still get the flu. Children are most at risk for complications. When should you take them to a doctor?
- Any child 3 months and older with a temperature of 102 or above should be seen by a doctor. (Tamiflu is effective when flu is diagnosed within 48 hours of the first symptoms.)
- For newborns and those under 4 months old, immediate attention is required for a fever of 100.4 and above.
I wrote more detailed information about fevers last fall. Also, click here to read the APPs flu guidance.
When it comes to the flu vaccine, the most common question I’m asked from parents is, does the flu shot cause the flu?.
No, the flu vaccine does not cause the flu. Is there a possibility you might get some body aches? Yes. The truth is any time you get a vaccine your body is mounting an immune response which means you may get body aches and even a fever. With the inactivated flu vaccine (shot), these symptoms may last for a day or two but you will not get the full-blown flu. If I had to choose between a runny nose for a day versus being sick and out of work for an entire week with the flu, I would definitely pick the flu vaccine.
Who should get the flu shot? Everyone 6 months and older. Those of heightened importance are pregnant women, elderly, children younger than 5 years old and those with underlying medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes.
In the worse scenario, flu can turn severe and even result in death. Why take the chance?
Ari Brown, MD