Like it or not, flu season is upon us.
No matter your view on vaccinations – whether or not to get them, or whether or not to get them according to the AAP’s (American Academy of Pediatrics) schedule, it’s important to understand the ramifications of NOT getting the influenza vaccination – especially as it pertains to your children.
The fact of the matter is that seasonal influenza kills more than 36,000 people and hospitalizes more than 200,000 each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As with any contagious disease, the very young, the very wise (aka. our senior citizens) and pregnant women are the most susceptible when it comes to contracting the virus. Since our littles cannot make these kinds of informed decisions on their own, it’s our job to do it for them. And what an important job it is. Too bad it’s not an easy one.
If you ever thought the decision to get the flu vaccine was fairly cut and dry – shot to the arm? maybe a nose squirt? – then think again. This year there are more options to consider.
For the first time ever, there is a flu vaccine that protects against four strains of the flu (quadrivalent) as opposed to the typical three strains (trivalent). This new vaccine is especially appropriate for children as they tend to contract the newly added strain more often than adults do.
But how will one know which vaccine they are getting?
For starters, if you opt for the nasal version, they will all be the new variety called FluMist Quadrivalent. Keep in mind though that the nasal version is only for healthy individuals ages 2 – 49 who are not pregnant (postpartum women, even the breastfeeding ones, can get either variety).
If you have children under 2, are older than 49, pregnant or have a chronic health condition, you can still get the four strain protection in shot form called Fluzone Quadrivalent, Fluarix Quadrivalent or FluLaval Quadrivalent. Of course it’s relevant to note that the CDC and the AAP do not recommend one version over the other.
Another new option available this year is for people with a serious egg allergy. It’s called the FluBlok vaccine, and unlike the traditional flu vaccines, it is not made with viruses grown in eggs. Unfortunately, the kiddos are out on this one. It’s currently only available for ages 18 – 49.
Fear of needles keeping you unvaccinated? Not any more! If you don’t qualify for the nasal spray (or maybe you have a fear of things being shot up your nose as well?), then as long as you are between the ages of 18 – 64, you can opt for the skin prick (no muscle puncture!) called Fluzone Intradermal.
If you haven’t already taken your kiddos and yourself in to get vaccinated, it’s certainly not too late. The flu season has just begun, but don’t wait too long because it takes approximately 2 weeks post-vaccination for the protection to begin.
Does the vaccine ensure that you won’t get the flu this year? No. Does it come with possible side effects? Yes. Are there other ways to prevent the flu from invading your household? Yes. Should you get the flu vaccine any way? Ultimately, it’s your call. One important thing we should all remember though is that by getting vaccinated against the flu, you’re not only protecting yourself but you’re protecting everyone you come in contact with as well.
And finding a location in which to get vaccinated shouldn’t be too difficult – everywhere from doctors’ offices to pharmacies to clinics (or clinics inside pharmacies like the Minute Clinic Krystal wrote about) and even some schools and employers will offer them.
Has your family been vaccinated yet this year?
Do you think the flu vaccine is a must-have?
**Do your opinions differ from Michelle’s? That’s okay! We respect every parent’s choice on whether they choose to vaccinate or not; however, as a member of the medical field (not a doctor!) Michelle’s purpose of this post was to teach those who do choose to vaccinate the new types of flu vaccines available.