That ugly “F” word is making the rounds once again.
No, it’s not something your kids might overhear at recess. It’s also not fall, football, or Frankenstein.
Have you guessed yet?
Thanks to county fairs, that nasty word – “flu” – dominated news cycles a little earlier than in years past. Cases of swine flu swept Charles, Anne Arundel, and Frederick Counties last month, resulting in at least two hospitalizations.
Though sharing similar symptoms, these cases of “variant influenza” – H3N2v – differ from the common strains of influenza that typically begin circulating in the late fall.
Nonetheless, it’s a sobering reminder that flu shots are – or should be – in our future.
Though flu season had a late arrival last year – peaking in February – both the timing and the construction of the virus are constantly changing. Because of this unpredictability, doctors are urging their patients not to wait to get vaccinated. Protective antibodies can take up to two weeks to develop.
Although many individuals remain hesitant to get the vaccination, flu shots are, hands down, the best way to avoid this seasonal sickness, and to prevent absences from work and school.
Vaccines are reviewed annually and updated for safety, and side effects are minimal and relatively rare. What’s more, those who receive vaccinations are effectively protecting those at high risk for the illness – infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with certain health conditions.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), routine annual influenza vaccinations are recommended for all individuals 6 months of age and older who do not have medical complications.
New considerations for this year’s flu season include:
- Nasal sprays are still out. Only injectable flu shots are recommended for use again this season.
- Flu vaccinations have been updated to better match circulating viruses, and the influenza A(H1N1) component was updated.
- Pregnant women can receive any licensed, recommended, and age-appropriate flu vaccination.
- Two new quadrivalent (four-component) flu vaccines are licensed this year: one inactivated influenza vaccine and one recombinant influenza vaccine.
- Some people should not be vaccinated, due to specific allergies or a history with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). Live attenuated vaccinations are also not recommended.
In addition to getting vaccinated, KinderMender encourages children and their parents to do their part to prevent the spread of influenza:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water – or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
- Stay home from work or school if you are sick until your fever has been gone for 24 hours without medication.
Flu shots are available now at all KinderMender locations. Our offices are open daily. Stop by and get vaccinated today.