Flu season is here: time to get the flu shot!
Even though it might seem like winter is still a few months away, now is the time to get your child (and yourself) vaccinated against the flu. Don’t delay—it’s very important to protect yourself and your family by getting the flu shot before flu season is in full swing and everyone around you is sick.
When exactly is flu season?
According to the CDC, the timing, severity and length of flu season varies from year to year. In the U.S., the flu virus is most common during the fall and winter months, usually increasing in October and November and peaking between December and February. In some years, the CDC says, flu season can last as late as May.
Whether or not to get the flu shot
Some people don’t get the flu shot because they say it gives them the flu. This misconception comes from the fact that whenever you get a vaccine, your body mounts an immune response that produces antibodies to defend itself in the event that it contracts that illness in the future. These antibodies can cause a mild reaction of body aches, but this is not the same as having the flu.
Even when your child is vaccinated, he/she can still get the flu, but this is unlikely
No vaccine is 100% effective. If you are vaccinated and still get the flu, you are less likely to have severe symptoms. REMEMBER: A mild reaction to the flu shot is always better than the actual illness itself, which for many children (and adults) is pretty awful.
Last year’s shot will not protect your child this year
The flu virus is very good at mutating and therefore changes each season. This means that the immunity your child got from last year’s shot won’t protect him/her this year.
How do scientists come up with each year’s flu shot?
Each summer, infectious disease specialists make a best guess on which variants of the flu virus are likely to be most common in the U.S. in the coming year. They particularly study data from countries such as Australia (whose flu seasons starts before the U.S.), then create a flu vaccine to counteract which virus (or combination of viruses) they think will be active during the coming U.S. winter.
Here’s how the CDC describes it:
“The influenza viruses in the seasonal flu vaccine are selected each year based on surveillance data indicating which viruses are circulating and forecasts about which viruses are the most likely to circulate during the coming season. Flu viruses are constantly changing, so the vaccine composition is reviewed each year and updated as needed based on which influenza viruses are making people sick, the extent to which those viruses are spreading, and how well the previous season’s vaccine protects against those viruses.”
What you can do to minimize your child’s risk of flu
No vaccine is ever 100% effective, which is why it’s so important to practice good hygiene to minimize your child’s exposure to the flu and his/her ability to pass it along. This includes:
- regular hand washing, especially before eating
- limiting your child’s contact with others when either your child or the ones around him/her are sick
- use antibacterial wipes on all surfaces your child has come in contact with if he/she is sick or those around him/her are sick
- get the flu shot, every year
Read what we’ve written about the flu
So that our patients and their parents can be as informed as possible about the flu and immunizing against it, we’ve published a number of blogs about how the flu differs from a cold, herd immunity, the importance of getting vaccinated, how vaccinations do not cause autism, and many additional topics:
- Yes, Your Child Should Still Get A Flu Shot
- Fighting The Flu
- Do Vaccinations Cause Autism? NO, And Here’s Why
- Is There a Reason NOT to Vaccinate Your Child?
- Why Immunizations Are Important
- How To Make Sure Your Child’s Vaccinations Are Up To Date
- White paper: IMMUNIZATION: The Incredible Intervention That Continues to Save Millions of Lives
At any age, count on us for all kinds of information to help you raise happy, healthy kids
You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Whether you’re raising teenagers, adolescents, toddlers or newborns, we’ve got years of experience helping parents take care of their children and we’re ready to help you with yours. Please come in and see us.
Wondering how best to protect your family against the flu, or whether to get the flu shot? Come see us.
If you want more information about the flu or the flu vaccine or to get your child tested for the flu, please come in and see one of our Westchester Health Pediatrics pediatricians. We’ll talk with you and answer all your questions, as well as test your child, if needed. If he/she does in fact have the flu, we’ll start treatment right away before it gets worse. If your child has not had the flu shot, we can give him/her one, but not if he/she is sick. (This will require another visit once your child is well.) Our #1 goal is to help your child and your family stay healthy and avoid illness, especially the flu. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.