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Why Your Child Should Get the Flu Vaccine by Charles A. Welborn, MD, MPH, FAAP, FACEP Medical Director, After Hours Pediatrics Urgent Care

Flu season is here, and parents tend to respond to it in two ways. One is to follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics and many other health care organizations, and have their children vaccinated. The second is to ignore the recommendations and ‘chance’ their children will not get the flu. Let’s look at some of the reasons why parents feel they shouldn’t vaccinate their children against the flu. First, many parents feel the vaccine doesn’t work well – they always know people who get the flu, even though they received the vaccine. While it is true that the vaccine is not 100% effective, it does protect people the majority of the time. The vaccine immunizes against three different types of flu, so if you are exposed to a different type of flu than what is in the vaccine, you may still get the flu. Also, the vaccine is most effective in healthy adults and older children whose immune systems respond well to the vaccination. In young children, older adults and those with chronic illness, the vaccine still works, but is not effective as in a healthy adolescent or adult.

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Second, many parents feel the vaccine is dangerous. While it is true that the rare person may have a serious reaction to the flu vaccine, the overwhelming majority of people receiving the vaccine experience only mild symptoms such as a low-grade fever and soreness at the injection site. These symptoms are the result of the body’s immune system responding to the vaccine, and not anything dangerous. The severe reactions, such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, are estimated to occur in only one person out of every million doses given. This rate is actually lower than what occurs naturally in people who do not receive the vaccine. Parents, read the flu vaccine information sheet so you are fully informed. Third, many parents think the flu is not a serious illness. While many cases of the flu do resemble a bad cold, the flu can lead to many complications, especially in small children and those with underlying chronic illness such as asthma, heart problems, diabetes, etc. The death rate in the United States can range from 3,000 to 49,000 people a year, primarily affecting small children, older adults, those with weakened immune systems and those with chronic health issues.

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30 • January 2017

The bottom line is the best way to weather flu season is to get vaccinated. It is a safe and effective way to prevent the illness in your child and to keep it from spreading to others.

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Finally, many parents feel if their child does get the flu, they can get a prescription for an antiviral medication (such as Tamiflu®). Actually, these medications are suggested for use only in children between the ages of one and two years, as well as for older children with chronic illness such as asthma, diabetes, heart conditions or immune problems. Therefore, most children do not meet the CDC guidelines for treatment with antiviral medications.

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Say you saw it in the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper

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Gulf Coast Family - January 2017  

Gulf Coast Family's primary purpose is to encourage families along the Gulf Coast by providing worthwhile information that deals with family...

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