Tis the season… for the flu vaccine!

‘Tis the season….

No, not Christmas shopping yet… but the season for influenza and the influenza vaccines!!!!

I recently made appointments for Audrey and Ethan to receive their vaccine at their doctor’s office and I got mine at work not too long ago.

Audrey will likely get the Flu Mist again this year, since she is healthy and over the age of 2 years.  Ethan will only need one shot this year since he got 2 doses last year during his first season.  Besides all of the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics, I feel that the vaccine has more benefits then risks for my family. With that being said, as I have mentioned before, my children have not experienced significant side effects from immunizations and so I still firmly believe that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Every parent has the duty to their children to make informed decisions in the best interest of their children. There is rarely an absolute correct decision. And we know that every decision in parenting comes with some guilt for some reason.

Do I feel guilty that Ethan has to get a shot? Yes!

Will I feel guilty if I choose NOT to vaccinate against the flu and one of them get sick from the flu? Yes!

For me I have to assess their risk of exposure (high because they are in daycare) and their risk of complications from the flu (lower because they are otherwise healthy, but still present because they are under the age of 5).

I weigh those risks against the risk of complications from the vaccine and for me that risk is minimal. Therefore I feel there will be more benefit from the vaccine then risk. You too must weigh those risks and discuss with your pediatrician to evaluate what is the best decision for your family.

Here are the current recommendations for the 2012-2013 Influenza Vaccine from the CDC and AAP:

Who should be vaccinated? All persons over 6 months of age.

Who is at risk for complications should they get the flu?

1.)    Children <5 years, especially those less than 2 years

2.)    People over 65 years

3.)    People with asthma or other chronic lung disease

4.)    People who are obese

5.)    People with chronic neurological conditions: seizures, muscular dystrophy, etc…

6.)    People with heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes

Who should not get the vaccine?

1.)    Anyone under the age of 6 months

2.)    Anyone with severe allergy to eggs or the flu vaccine

3.)    Anyone with a history of Guillian-Barre

What are the side effects from the vaccine?

1.)    Site soreness, redness, swelling

2.)    Low grade fevers, malaise, decreased appetite, headache

But you do not get the flu from the flu vaccine. It may be that you are experiencing a different viral infection, or that you contracted the flu before getting the vaccine because it does take 2 weeks to provide protection, or you could be feeling the immune response created by giving any vaccine.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

1.)    Fevers- typically above 102

2.)    Body aches, cough, runny nose, headache, maybe some vomiting and diarrhea

3.)    Complications include pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections

Remember that part of receiving a vaccine is protecting you. The other part of receiving a vaccine is protecting those around you who may be at higher risk of complication if you were to get the flu and pass it onto them. Please just review information found on the CDC website, discuss with your child’s health care provider, and make an informed decision. Use safe practices such as; good hand-washing, keeping your children home while they have a fever and for at least 24 hours after the fever has gone away, teach your children to cough into their arm and then wash hands, throw used tissues in the trash. Good luck and stay healthy!!!

Learn more in the Dayton Children’s flu center

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