It is that time of year where the noses are snotty, coughs are nagging and the big debate rages on–should I or shouldn’t I have my family get the flu vaccine?
Vaccinations are definitely a hot topic, and I must admit that on this one I am not completely sure of all my decisions about it. There is SO much information out there (sometimes I think about how simple it was before the internet and sigh). For as many articles as there are out there stating we should NOT vaccinate, there are just as many saying WE SHOULD.
Here are some recommendations, myths, and facts to help with the lingering questions.
The CDC recommends all individuals over the age of 6 months be vaccinated.
If you opt to vaccinate your family from the flu, there are few things you should know.
- It takes around 2 weeks for your body to build up the antibodies after you receive the vaccine–so get it early.
- If this is the first time your child has received the flu shot, know that he will require a booster and then the actual vaccine a month later, so be prepared to get the booster early in the fall and schedule a follow-up appointment a month later for the actual shot.
- If you or your child have had the vaccine before, are not pregnant, do not suffer from any respiratory issues (like asthma) and your doctor has it on hand, you can ask for the FluMist, a quick spray up the nose (both of my littles, ages 2 and 4 took it without a single fuss or tear).
- If you receive your flu shot from your doctor it is usually covered by your insurance. Many employers and schools also hand them out for free (when it is available). If you opt to go grab one from your local pharmacy the cost is usually around $25.
Myth (and the one that drives most doctors nuts) : The flu vaccine will give me the flu.
The flu shot is actually a dead virus and therefore cannot “give you” anything. The FluMist is considered a live virus but has been weakened and can therefore not cause the actual illness. I have heard many people say they felt ill a few days after receiving the vaccine, but experts say this is not the virus or vaccine but most like another cold or virus caught during this time of year when colds and virus run amuck. We have all heard our pediatricians say teething doesn’t cause fever or discomfort in babies, and I will be the first to say “YES IT DOES!” (even to my father-in-law who is a pediatrician), but this time, ladies, I side with the experts. Personally, I have never had any symptoms other than a sore arm from the flu shot (it has to be given in the muscle not fat).
Myth (kind of) : The flu vaccine only protects you from a few of the possible strands of the virus that are out there and I still might get it anyway.
It is true the vaccine only guards you against the strains that research has predicted will be around this year and the CDC never claims the flu vaccine will keep everyone well. Back in the 2003/2004 flu season, the CDC openly said they didn’t think the vaccine was going to be very effective as the virus that started to spread was not the one being vaccinated against. It is simply a precautionary measure that can’t guarantee you won’t get sick but can guard you against certain viruses. You must personally weigh the pros and cons of getting it.
The flu is a nasty virus. Especially in the young and old, it can mean more than just a day or two in bed–it can at times be fatal. I choose to vaccinate my family because I have not found any risks of the vaccine that make me believe it could be harmful for my family. I feel it is part of the process to keep my family healthy. But, following Anna’s great tips and vaccinating does not insure anything and I am personally thankful for TamiFlu. I was 37 1/2 weeks pregnant with my first child (and had been vaccinated but did it really late in the season) when I was hit HARD with the flu bug. My doctor and I felt it was best to get me back on my feet ASAP, should my little guy decide to make arrive his arrival soon, so I chose to take TamiFlu and was back to normal within a few days. I felt great when my son arrived a week and a half later.
In my opinion, all you can do is educate yourself as much as possible through good sources, trust the medical professionals you have chosen for your family and go with your ‘mommy gut’.
Do you and your family take the flu shot? Respectfully tell us why or why not.