As we juggle the persisting COVID-19 pandemic, the yearly beast known as flu is also knocking at our doors. You see, every year, flu bites between 3 and 11 percent of the population, dragging us to countless doctor visits and, unfortunately, in certain cases, it has fatal results. Thus, even with COVID vaccines being available now, there’s no understating this – now is the time to get the flu shot for your family to protect against this tenacious seasonal adversary.
The flu season may last until April, but getting vaccinated is the best way to avoid getting sick, according to Dawn Nolt, M.D., M.P.H., a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Committee on Infectious Diseases. There is evidence linking the flu vaccine to reduced hospitalization and mortality rates.
When, then, would you recommend being vaccinated? Read on for certain rules and regulations.
Schedule Your Flu Shot Today!
Seasonal influenza is most common in the United States between October and March. The CDC advises getting the flu shot in September or October since it takes two weeks for the antibodies to form in the vaccine. It’s best to wait until later in the flu season to get vaccinated, as the vaccine’s efficacy declines over time.
Getting vaccinated against the flu at any point during the season is preferable to waiting until the end of October, so there’s no need to stress if you missed that deadline. According to the CDC, you can still get a flu shot as late as January.
Two vaccinations may be necessary for children aged 6 months to 8 years. To protect your children from the flu this season, it is recommended that they receive two doses of the vaccine, four weeks apart. Since the second dosage needs to be administered at least four weeks following the first, the CDC recommends getting the first dose as soon as vaccination becomes available.
Influenza Vaccine Efficiency
It’s true that the flu vaccine isn’t foolproof and that its efficacy varies from year to year. That’s because it takes months for the vaccine to be developed before flu season begins, and it could be formulated to protect against viruses other than those that actually cause the illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the vaccine will lower flu risk by 40% to 60%. According to Dr. Nolt, not only does it offer protection against the most common flu strain circulating in communities, but it also offers protection against other flu strains. The vaccine’s antibodies may also protect against strains not included in the shot.
Having the vaccine is preferable to having no protection at all, despite its limitations. Dr. Mark N. Simon, Chief Medical Officer of OB Hospitalist Group, noted that according to the CDC, unvaccinated children account for 80% of all pediatric flu cases. He also notes that “people who get the flu after being immunized tend to have a milder case and recover quicker.”
The Influenza Vaccine: Who Needs It?
You and your kids should get flu shots since the virus can cause secondary illnesses. Respiratory viruses, particularly influenza, are responsible for around a third of all episodes of pneumonia. Simon. If you get the flu and recover, you still might infect your kids or other people who are more vulnerable to its effects. Women who are expecting, the elderly, and infants are particularly vulnerable.
Only a small number of cases fall outside of these recommendations. The CDC says that the flu shot shouldn’t be given to babies younger than 6 months. People with serious, life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccine or any of its chemicals should also not get the shot.
The vaccination is considered safe for use during pregnancy. Evidence suggests that flu vaccines, including ones that are thimerosal-free, are safe for pregnant women and their infants. Preterm labor is one of the potential outcomes of a flu infection, which can be avoided with the vaccine. Getting immunization when pregnant has additional advantages. Pregnant women who receive the flu vaccine can protect their unborn children. This is critical because infants younger than 6 months old cannot receive the flu vaccine.
A high-dose flu vaccine can further reduce the chance of contracting the flu for adults 65 and older.
Catching A Cold? What You Should Do
If you or your child has flu-like symptoms like a fever, sore neck, and body aches, stay home from work or school and see a doctor as soon as possible. Antiviral medications [such as Tamiflu] are effective against the influenza virus and can lessen the severity and duration of the illness if given during the first 48 hours. Your doctor may also test you for COVID-19 if you have flu-like symptoms.
You shouldn’t visit the emergency room unless it’s an absolute emergency. Elizabeth Suing, a physician’s assistant at Spectrum Health in Michigan, adds, “I advise patients to steer clear of the emergency room if they have mild to moderate symptoms.” Seeing a doctor in person at a clinic, urgent care facility, or even virtually if your health insurance provides telehealth services may be your best option. Hundreds of patients with the flu have been seen through our telemedicine program, with Tamiflu being provided during the necessary video consultations.
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