It’s back to school season, which also means preparing for flu season. One of the most effective things you can do to prevent the spread and complications of influenza is getting a flu vaccine. Here’s an update for this year.
Influenza is caused by multiple strains of flu virus. These viruses can change every year. This season’s vaccine is updated to match the viruses predicted to circulate this year, with two of the four components updated from last season. It’s also important to vaccinate every year because your protection from the vaccine declines over time.
It takes about two weeks for the flu shot protection to start. Children ages 6 months through 8 years old may need a second dose (at least 4 weeks apart) if they have not received at least two doses before this season. Early vaccination is better to prevent spread to a newborn, someone with a serious health condition, or an elderly family member. Immunity lasts the entire season.
The flu shot may be used for everyone 6 months and older. The nasal spray (i.e. FluMist®) is only for children ages two years and older and should NOT be given to patients with asthma, patients ages 2 to 4 years old with wheezing in the past year, patients with immune suppression, or patients in close contact with a person whose immune system is severely compromised and who must be in protective isolation. The CDC now believes the nasal spray is as effective as the flu shot, but there will be a limited supply of nasal spray available this year.
All Allegro Pediatrics staff and providers are required to get a flu vaccine. We also encourage all adults to get a flu shot. This provides an opportunity to teach by example and demonstrate how you care for yourself and others, as well as how you cope with getting the vaccine (or treat yourself afterwards)!
It’s not always easy to tell the difference between a cold and the flu.
Colds usually come on slowly. They may start with a mild fever or sore throat. Your child may develop a runny or stuffy nose, cough, hoarse voice, watery eyes, or swollen lymph nodes.
The flu usually comes on quickly. A sudden onset of symptoms may occur including fever, muscle aches, chills, fatigue, and headache. Your child may also develop a runny nose, sore throat, and bad cough.
Dr. James Chattra is a pediatrician in the Allegro Pediatrics Redmond Ridge office. He is the executive director of the North Pacific Pediatric Society, and has also served on the Vaccine Advisory Committee of the Washington Department of Health.