Let us be clear from the get-go: Getting your family vaccinated against the flu is the safest and most effective way to protect your family during flu season.
The flu isn’t the sniffles—it’s a dangerous and sometimes deadly virus. The CDC estimates that over 200,000 people are hospitalized by the flu each year. Studies show that those who receive the flu vaccine have a higher chance of staying healthy from fall through winter, when viruses like the flu thrive. For your kiddos, this means you can send them to school without worrying that they’ll bring home the virus. For expecting mothers, this means that you can protect yourself—and your developing child—from getting the flu.
Getting the flu vaccine can help you avoid developing the illness or shortening its duration if you do contract it. There are two kinds of flu vaccines: The injection (which contains the dead virus) and the nasal spray (which contains the live, albeit weakened virus). Both have been shown NOT to give anyone the flu, but people have received a strong inflammatory response to the vaccine itself. This will come with symptoms such as a fever, chills and body aches, each of which usually goes away after a few days.
Pregnant women should definitely NOT get the nasal spray (FluMist). While avoiding a shot seems pretty tempting when you are pregnant, it isn’t effective and the risk of side effects isn’t worth it if you aren’t getting adequate protection in return. The flu shot IS recommended for pregnant women, regardless of any trimester. It does not harm the baby- in fact it protects you and your developing child. Be aware that you may feel a bit more of the normal bodily response to the vaccine due to a heightened inflammatory response when you are pregnant. Again, this goes away in just a few days and does not affect the health of the baby, whereas an actual infection of the flu is much more dangerous.
In addition to getting the flu shot, parents can take a couple of common-sense precautions when it comes to their family’s health this fall. First, make sure your children know about good hand-washing techniques. They should wash their hands before eating and after sneezing as well as after they come into contact with other students. Second, encourage your family to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to keep their body healthy—having good nutrition is part of how our bodies fight illness and disease. Finally, make sure to visit your doctor regularly to keep on top of your children’s health at every stage of their lives.
If your child develops the flu and you need after-hours care, come see us. NightLight is here to comfort young ones and their parents, helping every stay healthy and happy.