The most important questions about your flu vaccine this year
1. Where will you get the flu vaccine?
You can get it in your doctor’s office, at many pharmacies, or at the local department of health.
2. Do you want a squirt up your nose or a needle in your arm?
If over 2 years old, not an asthmatic, and free of a few other restrictions, then your child may be eligible to get the flumist, a nasal spray version of the flu vaccine.
Where this pediatrician got her flu vaccine?
Of course, I got the flu vaccine. It’s mandatory in many hospitals now, and I gladly check off this evidence-based preventive step to protect myself, my family, and my patients from serious influenza-related illness. After all, what’s not to love when the hospital makes it as convenient as coming into work? At the main hospital, employees line up with sleeves rolled up as they arrive at the parking garage in the morning. At the satellite office where I work, one of the nurses administered the vaccine for all the staff. I sat down, and a second later, got up and returned to seeing patients. Poke. Done. Did it even happen? This year’s flu vaccine didn’t hurt at all, so I even questioned if the nurse actually gave it or not. The staff then reminded me that I had photo documentation of the injection (see photo above).
I got my flu vaccine at work, where are you getting yours?
Flu vaccine data
To get the flu vaccine or not? That is not a question I posted up top bc it’s kind of like, uh, well… to live or not to live? To wear a seatbelt or not to wear a seatbelt? But it is a question I often get, and here is how I answer that.
Wait, I can do better….
In short, there are two ways the flu virus can turn the body’s organs to mush. The flu virus can do it, shutting down non-essential parts first like the kidneys and liver… then eventually the heart and brain. The flu virus can also be very inviting and allow bacteria that normally doesn’t infect the body to come attack bones, lungs, and spinal fluid.
Very smart scientists do their best to guess which influenza strains to put in the vaccine each year. They might be wrong. But. BUT! Kids who have the flu infection despite the flu vaccine are less at risk of being seriously hooked-up-to-machines sick… or worse!
Here is the latest from the CDC. The biggest updates are the availability of flumist, a nasal spray #fluvaccine, and a couple recent studies showing that vaccinated kids are at a much lower risk for dying from influenza.
Flumist is back!
Here’s why #flumist is an option again. The 2016 version was effective in other places, just not US. Changing the H1N1 strain in the 2018-19 vaccine has shown to produce a bigger immune response & hopefully better effectiveness. Yay! See this article for a more in depth explanation.
How to prep kids for their flu vaccine
The data is clearly in favor of the benefits of the flu vaccine. Here’s is a tale of two ways on how to prepare kids for it.
Last flu season, I lied to my kids and told they were tagging along with me to go to my office for a meeting. They then got wise when they were ushered into an exam room. One by one I held each of them in my arms while the medical assistant injected their arms with the flu vaccine. The tears were quickly halted by apple sauce pouches and we went home and moved on with life.
This year, I was honest and prepped them for a quick poke (flumist supply hadn’t arrived yet at that time) and that the flu vaccine would keep them healthy from a dangerous germ called the flu. Despite all the built up hype, our first attempt was postponed due to a delayed flu vaccine shipment, and my kids were in tears because they didn’t want to get sick with the flu. At our second appointment to get a flu vaccine, I realized the flumist was in stock and asked for it. Then my kids were very very disappointed they didn’t get a “tickle” in their arm (don’t know where that came from, not my words). I can’t win with them, but at least I have the flu vaccine to try to win flu season.
Whatever method you use, make it a positive experience, explain that this is to keep them healthy!
This is not medical advice. Please discuss with your child’s doctor and your own doctor to formulate a care plan that is appropriate for you, your child, and/or your family. Your reading of this blog post or any article by Joannie Yeh does not establish a doctor-patient relationship.