Flu vaccine is still available throughout the country and it is never too late to get a vaccine. But, with that being said, our office has very few vaccines for children over the age of 3 years and there is no more vaccine being produced for this flu season. Because the vaccine is “seasonal”, meaning that a new vaccine with different strains of flu is made each year, manufacturers stop producing vaccines in anticipation of flu season slowing down and ending….in fact, they will begin discussions about next years flu vaccine in the next several weeks.
I continue to have parents explain to me “why they don’t get fu vaccines”, yet they are concerned that their child has the flu. They tell me, “why should I get a shot, that hurts, if it doesn’t even work?”. Even though the vaccine effectiveness is less than had been hoped for, any protection is better than none! There are studies every year that show that people who have been vaccinated have less severe illness, less secondary infections, fewer hospitalizations and lower mortality rates. Knowing that, why would you “skip” the vaccine, while at the same time be anxious about your child’s illness being the flu?
I am also seeing many other viral illnesses right now that have very similar symptoms as the flu. Not every child who has a fever, runny nose, congestion, sore throat and cough has influenza. We have had kids test positive for all sorts of different viruses including coronavirus, adenovirus, parainfluenza virus, and rhinovirus. This also means that all of these viruses are circulating in the community….and you are pretty much exposed to these viruses wherever you go. Although a few schools in our area have closed due to Influenza, these kids are still exposing one another to viral infections as they head to the movies, the gym, swimming lessons, dance class and sports events. It is impossible to “hide” from the germs, even when you don’t go to school.
Lastly, several parents have told me that their child “did not feel well, but did not have a fever” so they went ahead and sent them to school or day care, only to be called a short time later that their child is at the nurse complaining of being sick and now have a fever. During this epidemic it would probably be better to err on the side of caution, and if your child is “under the weather”, keep them home for a day and make sure that they don’t develop a fever or become more ill. Remember, you are shedding virus and are contagious before you even get the fever.
So…get your vaccine if you have not yet gotten it. Wash hands, cover mouths when coughing or sneezing, and stay home if you or your children are sick!!!