If you don’t seek out and receive a flu vaccine this season, you can’t say you weren’t reminded and warned by your family and friends, your doctors, and the media. Jamie Ducharme jogs memories from last year:

The 2017-2018 flu season was a bad one. The dominant viral strain, H3N2, was a particularly severe form of influenza, leading to widespread and serious illness across the country. The flu and its complications killed around 80,000 people last year, the CDC estimates, including 180 children. That’s the highest flu death toll in four decades.


Like everything else in health and in life, timing is everything. Getting your flu vaccine before Halloween is advised, so it’s time to get a move on and get a flu shot this week:

The CDC recommends getting your flu shot by the end of October, before the bulk of the 2018-2019 flu season hits, because it takes about two weeks for the flu shot to take effect. But don’t give up if you miss that window — you can still get a flu shot well into the fall or winter, says Dr. Tanaya Bhowmick, an assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Rutgers’ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “It’s never too late to get the flu vaccine,” Bhowmick says.


Practically every medical doctor, nurse, and public health expert urges their patients, loved ones, and even people they don’t know to get a vaccine to protect themselves from influenza every year. Health care professionals understand the risks people take when they don’t immunize and are more or less unanimous in coming to this scientific, evidence-based consensus: vaccines effectively and inexpensively prevent dangerous diseases in a safe manner for practically everybody. (Talk to your board-certified doctor if you think you have a medical reason for not getting vaccines.) The flu shot this year is expected to be very effective in at least preventing severe cases of influenza, emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. The side effects are small-to-nonexistent — maybe a sore arm for a couple of days. (Hint: try to relax your arm muscles completely before the needle is inserted.) And best of all, the flu shot should prevent you from infecting someone else like a small baby too young to be vaccinated, or a child or adult who cannot receive a vaccine due to a medical contraindication.

Finally, and for the umpteenth time, let’s put to rest the myth that flu vaccines somehow cause the flu. Pediatrician Kristen Stuppy, M.D. debunks that one:

No. No it doesn’t.

Flu is a very dangerous illness that results in many people requiring hospitalization. Each year previously healthy children and adults die from influenza.

The symptoms people get after flu shots often could be explained by many viruses. They are not the flu. If they really are flu symptoms, it is because the vaccine didn’t have time to take effect or it was a strain not included in the vaccine.

There is no plausible way that the injectable flu vaccine can cause the flu. There is no live virus in the injectable vaccine that can lead to flu disease. Injectable flu vaccines are made in two ways. Either the vaccine is made with flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are not infectious or with no flu vaccine viruses at all.

The most common side effects from the influenza shot are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot was given. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur, but interestingly these same symptoms occur with placebo shots too.


So don’t delay. Listen to your own professional health care expert and get your flu shot today. Parents: call your pediatrician’s office today and schedule a convenient time to bring them in so you can protect them from this dreadful vaccine-preventable disease.



More about influenza and protecting your family from it on The PediaBlog here.


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