When it comes to our children, we will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. That means buying bike helmets, mouth guards, reflective clothing and athletic shoes. But if you want “new and improved” in terms of flu protection, experts say don’t wait.
Last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 160 children died because of the flu. The CDC says the best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot.
Traditionally, flu vaccines are formulated to protect against two or three flu strains scientists determine are the most likely to cause an outbreak. This year, however, some companies are marketing a vaccine that protects against four flu strains. That may be enough to convince some parents to wait for the new vaccine, when the traditional flu vaccine is more readily available.
"I think it is important to vaccinate children as early in the season as possible, with whatever appropriate flu vaccine is available." said pediatrician, Amy L. Garlove, M.D., at Kosair Children's Hospital Medical Associates - Dupont. "I am not recommending people wait for the quad-strain vaccine, as we don't know when the manufacturers will be able to make enough to release into circulation. Other than FluMist (which is a live, quadravalent vaccine, and is not appropriate for everyone), there may not even be an option of getting the 4-strain traditional flu shot this year, due to manufacturing. Therefore it is important to go ahead and get what is available now, to protect yourself and your children sooner rather than later." Dr. Garlove stated.
The CDC recommends parents, caregivers, health care professionals and senior citizens get flu vaccines every year. You still hear people complain that the flu shot gave them the flu. Doctors say that’s virtually impossible. And for those who have been unable to get a flu shot because they’re allergic to eggs, there’s a new vaccine that is safe for them. Just ask your primary care provider or drugstore about that.
It’s hard to estimate just how many people get sick from the flu bug annually. It’s somewhere between 3,000 and 49,000. It takes about two weeks for the flu shot to be effective, so don’t wait until after the virus starts circulating among people you know.
"People often underestimate the morbidity associated with influenza. It can lead to severe illness, hospitalization and even death. Don't take the chance! Protect yourself and your family!" said Dr. Garlove.