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Just a reminder! Thanks for visiting us at Shots Hurt Less Blog! This is just a reminder that the information on this site is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should never replace the recommendations of your doctor - check with your doctor if you have any specific questions! We will always honor and protect patient confidentiality, and we ask that you all do the same, if you choose to comment on our posts. Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday
Oct092013

Dr. Brown Knows Flu...Do You? (Part 1 of 2)

This morning, while on a walk with my two young kids, I paused to appreciate the cool, crisp autumn air and the hint of yellow in the trees in my neighborhood.  I love the fall!  There's so much to do from riding the ferris wheel at the Dixie Classic Fair, visiting a pumpkin patch, raking leaves, or choosing Halloween costumes.   But, we at Twin City Peds, think there is one thing that should be at the top of your To Do list....Get your children vaccinated against Flu!  

I know there are many of you out there that think a flu vaccine isn't essential.  It is!  Pardon me for being so blunt, but there are many, many very intelligent and well educated people who are misinformed about influenza.

Please allow me to address some of the most popular reasons offered for refusing the flu vaccine.

1. The flu is annoying, but not actually dangerous for an otherwise healthy person (or child).

False. I understand that people who have not worked in a pediatric Intensive Care Unit may have a hard time picturing what influenza can do to an otherwise healthy child - but it can be devastating. It can kill your child! There were 105 children who died last year in the US because of influenza.  Children with underlying medical conditions accounted for 60% of these deaths (which means that 40% of those who died were otherwise healthy kids).

2. I never get the flu...so it's not necessary to get the vaccine (or for my child to get the vaccine). 

False. Saying I've never had the flu, and therefore don't need the vaccine is like saying, "I've never been in a car accident, so I won't wear my seat belt." Or worse yet "I've never been in a car accident, so I won't put my kids in a car seat."  Just like a car accident, there is no telling when the flu will hit.  And like a car accident, sometimes you may get lucky and just have a small fender bender (some people who get the flu have milder cases but still typically are miserably sick for several days) but you may not be so lucky and end up in a fatal accident (the flu kills otherwise healthy adults AND kids every year). 

3.  Last year I got the flu from flu shot.

False.  While you may have gotten sick - it was not due to the vaccine! It is 100% impossible to get the flu from the flu shot. The flu shot contains DEAD virus and it absolutely can not infect you.  The nasal flu vaccine (FluMist) uses a special type of live flu virus, one that's been altered to survive only in the cooler outer nose region; if it tries to spread deeper into your nose or into your body, the slightly higher temperatures there prevent the nasal flu virus from living, making it impossible to get the flu from the nasal vaccine as well.  

 Please note: There is a chance that for a couple days after a vaccine, you will ache and have a mild fever. The reason? Your immune system is simply revving up. But, rest assured,this is not due to the actual influenza virus.  Interestingly, in a randomized, blinded study, where some people got flu shots and others got saltwater shots, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot. There were no differences in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.

The flu vaccine is not a gaurentee that you won't get the flu (see below for reasons why) but it sure helps your chances!  

- People may be exposed to an influenza virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the two-week period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in a person becoming ill with flu before the vaccine begins to protect them.

- People may become ill from other viruses (NOT influenza) that circulate during the flu season, which can also cause flu-like symptoms (such as rhinovirus widely known as "the common cold").

- A person may be exposed to an influenza virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different influenza viruses that circulate every year. The flu shot protects against the 3 or 4 viruses (depending on whether the flu shot is a trivalent or quadrivalent vaccine) that research suggests will be most common.

The good news is that people vaccinated who still get infected with influenza typically have much milder symptoms. Further, 90% of the children who died from the flu last year had not been gotten their flu vaccine.

4. We got the flu vaccine last year, so my family won't need a vaccine again this year.

False. Unfortunately, the flu strains change from year to year. Previous vaccines may not protect you against current germs.

Stay tuned for more information about the flu - coming soon.... (including descriptions of the types of flu vaccine available this year and info about Twin City Pediatrics Flu Clinics)

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