A Healthier Flu Season Starts with Vaccination
But there's a simple way to avoid this misery and help stop the flu in its tracks: an annual flu vaccination.
This year, as flu season begins, Packard Children's caregivers are encouraging our patients and their families to get immunized. And we're proudly rolling up our own sleeves for a new campaign expected to produce the highest-ever vaccination rates among our staff.
"It's important to get vaccinated because the flu is unpredictable," said Cornelia Dekker, MD, the medical director of the vaccine program at Packard Children’s and Stanford Hospital & Clinics. "Even healthy folks can become very sick, and you never know when or where you might get exposed."
The vaccine is safe for almost everyone, Dekker said, but it takes two weeks for your immune system to respond, so it's best to get vaccinated early in the flu season.
Children older than 6 months of age, adults and pregnant women should all be vaccinated. Dekker shared the following vaccination tips:
- The vaccine comes in two equally effective forms, an injection and a nasal mist. Most people can get either, but children younger than 2, adults older than 49, those with asthma and pregnant women should receive the injection.
- Flu vaccines cannot cause the flu. The vaccine given as a shot contains inactivated pieces of virus, not the whole virus. The nasal spray vaccine contains virus that is weakened so that it does not cause flu.
- Kids who have never had a flu shot may need two doses; check with your doctor.
- The best protection for infants younger than 6 months is to vaccinate people around them, including parents, siblings and daycare providers.
- Influenza hits pregnant women especially hard. Women who are or will be pregnant should get vaccinated for themselves, and because their antibodies may give their infants some immunity after birth.
- A change from the past: Although the vaccine is manufactured in chicken eggs, people with mild egg allergy symptoms can now receive it. Those with more-severe egg allergies should ask their doctor.
"It's not acceptable if our caregivers become a source of infection," Dekker said. "Patient protection is a high-priority goal."