With the arrival of fall and winter, the flu season is upon us. And in a year that has already been plagued by the coronavirus, getting a flu shot is more important than ever.
While most children won’t face major health consequences from either the influenza virus or the coronavirus, some children with certain health challenges might. Furthermore, children protected against the flu can help avoid spreading the virus to other family members who may be more vulnerable to the effects of a severe respiratory infection.
Smita Tandon, MD, of Dr 2 Kids in Fountain Valley, California, encourages parents to get their children immunized against the flu to help protect their children, their family, and their community. Take a moment to schedule your family’s flu shots today.
Two general types of the flu virus, called influenza A and influenza B, are the most common culprits for the flu in humans. Each of these types has many constantly changing strains, mutations that permit the viruses to live on even after people develop an immunity to previous strains. It’s a tug-of-war that’s been happening for generations.
That can make it challenging to avoid the flu. Your body may not recognize a new flu strain, and your body may get sick all over again before it knows how to fight this invader in the future. Once enough people have antibody protection against a strain, it dies off, but not before mutations create new strains that can attack your body.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitors flu virus strains around the world and their changes in an effort to predict which versions of the flu will be most likely to infect Americans each year. This information forms the basis for annual flu-shot formulas, designed to reduce the number of people who get sick each year.
Most years, an estimated 40-60% of people who get the vaccine avoid getting the flu. This helps improve the overall wellness of the population because fewer people get sick, fewer people end up in hospitals, and it helps contain the spread of flu strains.
Every year, the flu places a burden on the health care system, as many people affected by the flu need treatment. Some people, such as newborns, the elderly, and those with other conditions, have few natural protections against the respiratory effects caused by the flu. Most people who get the flu feel awful for about a week and then recover without much difficulty. However, while they’re sick, they can pass on the virus to others.
This year, we’re already fighting another viral illness that’s placing a burden on the health care system. COVID-19 is using up hospital beds that are normally waiting for victims of the flu. Doctors and nurses could be stretched to their limits caring for the critically ill from both diseases. While we don’t yet have a vaccine against the coronavirus, we do have flu vaccines.
Not only will getting your child vaccinated give them a better chance at avoiding the illness, but it will also help spare other, more vulnerable, family members.
To get your child vaccinated, book an appointment online or over the phone with the practice of Smita Tandon, MD, today.