As you know from previous posts, it is an early flu season and my office has been really busy with lots of flu cases. With that being said it is never too late to get your flu vaccine (after all, this is National Influenza Immunization week). Those of us who opted for flu vaccine earlier this fall are hopefully already protected and it looks like this years vaccine is a good match for the 3 types of flu that are already circulating.
The flu vaccine contains 3 different types of flu strains, 2 Flu A, and 1 Flu B. We are seeing both types of flu right now, as is a great deal of the southern United States as well as the Midwest. It will only be time before the rest of the United States will see rising flu activity as well, especially with holiday travel quickly approaching.
For those of you who haven’t been immunized yet, I would put getting the flu vaccine for all children over 6 months of age at the top of my “to do list”. If you have been fortunate enough not to see your pediatrician this fall, you may not have had the opportunity to be reminded to get the vaccine. In fact, the last patient of the day yesterday was a 10 year old boy with classic flu symptoms: sudden onset of fever, chills, cough, scratchy throat and body aches. His mother “thought” that she had been in and had gotten the vaccine but when I looked it was LAST fall and the time had just escaped her. Not uncommon when you have healthy children who only see their pediatrician once a year.
Even if you have been unlucky enough to already have had the flu, which really knocks you down for at least 5-7 days, you should go get the vaccine once you are over the acute illness. Believe it or not, you could actually contract one of the other strains of flu that will continue into the flu season. Some might say that it can’t happen, but it does!
Lastly, if you do get the flu keep your child home from day care or school and all of their other activities. Flu is very contagious, and going to school just spreads the virus to others. This is also true for parents, who need to stay home from work with the flu as well.
Keep washing those hands! We have a long winter ahead.