Guess who hasn’t gotten their flu shot yet? That would be me. I took care of the kids a few weeks ago and my husband was lucky enough to get his at work. So the only one left is me.
I know I should get it. My kids bring home every germ possible and even if they don’t get whatever funk they’ve brought home, I, inevitably, do. Before kids I didn’t EVER get sick. I also never got the flu shot. But now I don’t have time to be sick and I know all parents can relate to that. Sick days aren’t like they used to be and let’s face it, the flu isn’t EVER fun, so why risk it?
I’m in luck though. It’s not to late to get the flu shot. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) and its partners want to remind all of us that even though the holiday season has arrived, it is not too late to get your flu vaccine. That’s why they’ve created National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), which is going on right now (Dec 7 – 13).
I know a lot of people (like me) put it off. I know plenty of people who say “But you can still get the flu even if you get the vaccine, so why bother?” Flu viruses are always changing. But guess what? Having been vaccinated can actually prevent you from getting sicker if you do get an uncovered strain. You might be sick, but it could be much less severe because you’ve been vaccinated.
Think about others.
When I think about the years I didn’t get the flu shot, I get mad at myself. Was I putting others at risk?
Adults who meet any of the following criteria should definitely get a flu shot:
– Are close contacts of, or live with, children younger than 5 years old.
– Are out-of-home caregivers (nannies, daycare providers, etc.) of children younger than 5 years old.
– Live with or have other close contact with children of any age with a chronic health condition, i.e., asthma, diabetes, etc.
– Are health care workers.
The risk of serious flu complications requiring hospitalization is highest among children younger than 6 months of age, but they are too young to be vaccinated. The best way to protect them is to ensure people around them get vaccinated. It is also important for pregnant women to get vaccinated to protect their unborn babies. Studies have shown that getting a flu shot during pregnancy can decrease your baby’s chance of getting the flu for up to 6 months after birth. Vaccination is especially important for children with asthma, diabetes (type 1 and 2),or certain other long-term medical conditions because they are at increased risk for serious complications from flu if they get sick.
Flu activity usually peaks between December and February in the United States and can last as late as May.
As long as flu viruses are circulating, it’s not too late to get vaccinated.
You have choices, both in terms of where to get vaccinated and which vaccine to get. Flu vaccines made to protect against three different flu viruses Flu vaccines made to protect against three different flu viruses (called “trivalent” vaccines) are available this season. In addition, flu vaccines made to protect against four different flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines) also are available at many employers and schools. This is what our pediatrician’s office gave to my kids. I made sure when we went in.
PS. Are your kids nervous about their shot? I always promise ice cream after. It gives them something to look forward to and serves as a bit of a distraction.
The most important thing is for all people 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine every year, regardless of which vaccine option you choose. If you have questions about which vaccine is best for you, talk to your doctor or other health care professional.
For more on NIVW, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/nivw/index.htm.
This post was sponsored by The Motherhood and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All opinions are my own.