How to Avoid the Flu

10:29 AM

Every year before the end of the school year, my children's school never fails to send out communication about the availability of the flu vaccine. Every year, at about this time when summer starts, my two children get their shots. Getting the flu vaccine is considered essential in avoiding the flu.

Who Needs to Be Vaccinated?

Ideally, every member of the family including adults and children aged 6 months and up should get a flu vaccine. This is to ensure that family members will not be passing on the flu virus to each other when they get exposed. However, there are specific guidelines for this.

The following should get their flu vaccine:

1. Persons who are at increased risk of complications including
    a. people aged 50 years and above
    b. children aged 6 to 23 months
    c. adults and children with chronic health conditions
2. Persons working in chronic care facilities
3. Persons who have high potential of transmitting the virus such as health workers
4. Persons who want to be protected from the flu virus

The following should not get or delay getting their flu vaccine:

1. Children less than 6 months old
2. Persons who developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome within 6 weeks after the last flu shot
3. Persons who are still recuperating from a serious illness
4. People with severe egg allergy

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has clarified that the egg protein contained in flu vaccines are very low and is therefore not expected to cause any allergic reactions. However, it would be wise to consult a doctor when in doubt. Also, there is now a flu vaccine with no egg content in it.

When is the Best Time to Get Vaccinated?

The best time is the start of summer which is several months before the flu season coinciding with the rainy season. The months of February to June are considered ideal. Flu vaccines have to be given yearly because of the change in prevalent virus strains each and every year.

What are the Forms of Flu Vaccine?

1. By Injection
    The flu shot is usually injected into the upper arm. There is also an option for intradermal
    shots which only penetrates the top skin's top layer. Possible side effects include low-grade
    fever and achiness lasting for 1-2 days. 
2. By Spraying into Nose
    The nasal flu vaccine is sprayed into the nose. Its obvious advantage over the traditional
    injected vaccine is the absence of pain while administering it. There are concerns however
    that is it less effective in certain age groups particularly the elderly.

My Say

In our desire to offer our children the best protection we can provide them, my husband and I make it a point that they get their yearly flu shots in time. Even when some questions are being raised about the safety of using specific vaccines, we are continually hoping that the risks involved would be zero since the well-being of our children is the primary reason why we go through this every year. 

That said, it should be noted that it would take about two weeks before the protection offered by the flu vaccine takes effect that is why it makes sense to be vaccinated several months before flu season starts.

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