Everyone knows someone who has had the flu this season. Many people think it’s too late to get a preventive flu shot (vaccine), because surely it has run its course in our community. Well, it isn’t too late, and the flu season isn’t over by a long shot.
We will be seeing flu cases until at least spring break. Last year we still had cases in April, so there are eight weeks of flu season left.
If your child hasn’t had a flu shot yet, now is the time. We see in our practice how effective the vaccine is for your family.
This year to date we have had 279+ cases of the flu in our practice alone. In the previous two flu seasons, the total number of cases in our practice were 234 (2016-17) and 148 (2015-16). As you can see, the numbers are higher this year, which means your family has an increased exposure.
But the vaccine helps a great deal. Of the 279 cases so far, 125 cases were of Type A flu among those who had not had the vaccine. Only 46 children who’d had the vaccine got Type A flu. There have been 80 cases of Type B among those with no vaccine, and only 28 cases of Type B in kids who’d had the flu shot.
We have given over 3,500 doses of flu vaccine this season, and we find the chances are much greater of contracting flu when patients haven’t had the shot.
Every year we notice in our practice:
- Patients that get the vaccine have a milder course. According to an article by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “During past seasons, approximately 80% of flu-associated deaths in children have occurred in children who were not vaccinated. Based on available data, this remains true for the 2017-2018 season, as well.”
- In families where everyone is vaccinated and someone gets the flu, the entire household may not be affected
- Even when the vaccine fails for one strain, it will protect against other strains. As you can see above, we are seeing plenty of both types.
- Getting one strain will not protect you from the other (if you’ve had Type A already, you may still get Type B, and vice versa). So even if you’ve had the flu, you should still get the shot.
- It takes two weeks for the vaccine to be protective. For infants and toddlers, it takes 2 doses of vaccine to be effective. Note: Infants and children 6 months to less than 9 years of age who received at least 2 doses of trivalent or quadrivalent influenza vaccine prior to July 1, 2017 need only 1 dose of the 2017 to 2018 seasonal influenza vaccine. The 2 doses need not have been received during the same season or consecutive seasons. All other children less than 9 years of age (including those whose vaccination status cannot be determined) should receive 2 doses separated by 4 or more weeks in order to achieve effectiveness, according to the CDC.
- If you don’t remember when your infant or child had a vaccine, call our office.
- Tamiflu is not a guaranteed back up plan if your family gets the flu. We are now starting to experience shortages of Tamiflu and it may not be widely available in the next few weeks. However, we still have vaccine available.
Bottom line: the flu is still prevalent, but you can help protect your family by getting everyone vaccinated.
Call us for an appointment.