Even though the temperatures are topping out in the high 90’s around many parts of the country, it is still the time of year that pediatric offices are just receiving their flu vaccines for the 2017-2018 season. Our office received our first shipments about 10 days ago and we have already started immunizing. This includes “my” precious 6 month old babies - all the way through to my college patients.
There are 2 questions on parents and their kids minds:
#1 Is it too early to get a flu vaccine?
#2 Is there “flu-mist” available this year?
I bet you can guess who is asking question #1 and who wants to know about question #2.
So here you go:
#1 It is NOT too early to start getting your flu vaccine. Once you receive the vaccine it takes several weeks to develop antibody levels and these antibodies have been shown to last throughout the flu season. Flu season is also temperamental….in that it sometimes decides to arrive sooner than is typical- which means you want to be prepared in case of an early influenza season. So, if you are in your pediatrician’s office, go ahead and opt in for the vaccine…and then you save yourself a trip back later in flu season…and in many cases another co-payment!
#2 Sorry kids and parents (and doctors too), there is not going to be a nasal mist influenza vaccine again this year. The studies of the live attenuated influenza vaccine (FluMist) from the 2015-2016 flu season found that FluMist was only 5% effective in children ages 2-17, compared with 60% effectiveness for the inactivated (shot) flu vaccine. While no one wants tears - pediatricians do want to give a vaccine that has been found to work - which means a shot.
Just to clarify…as parents often ask…”if the flu vaccine is not always 92-99% effective like our routine childhood vaccines, why should we get a shot?”. My short answer, “would you buy a lottery ticket if you had a 60% chance of winning, rather than .000000001% chance?”. If you don’t get a flu vaccine it is guaranteed that you didn’t get any flu protection…I would rather go with the odds of it working (and winning the lottery which I would buy a ticket for with better odds). We also have data that shows that those children who received flu vaccine had less chance of complications and hospitalization than those who were not vaccinated.
Start scheduling your family's flu vaccine today.