Flu season has officially started. If you have ever experienced the flu, you probably know how miserable you feel with a high fever, headache, body ache, etc. When children get the flu, they have to miss a lot of school days and valuable play time. Caring for a sick child, especially a younger child, is emotionally and physically tough for parents, too.
During Tasty Tuesdays In November, we will talk about how we can protect ourselves against the flu.
1. Get a flu shot! But why?
Everyone, except infants younger than 6 months old, should get a flu shot because these shots lower the risk of getting the flu. It is really that simple. While it may still be possible to get the flu even after getting a shot, the symptoms will likely be mild and you will recover more quickly.
Maybe you are lucky and are thinking to yourself, “But I have never had the flu before, so I must be naturally immune.” Unfortunately, this is not the case. Just because you have never had the flu before, that does not mean that you can’t get the flu this year. And just as importantly, when you get a flu shot you are helping to protect others who cannot get a shot for medical reasons. So even if you might believe that you are naturally immune to the flu, there are many reasons to still go and get your shot!
2. My child HATES needles. What to do?
***2016 UPDATE – as of 2016, nasal spray flu vaccine is no longer recommended. The information below, from 2013, was accurate then. It is possible that nasal vaccines may be recommended again in the future, but current information does not support them.***
The nasal spray flu vaccine is available for healthy, non-pregnant people who are 2 to 49 years old. If your child qualifies, this option may work better than the traditional flu shot.
If the nasal spray flu vaccine is not an option for you (or if your child dislikes the spray even more than she hates the shot), there are still ways to make the experience less stressful. The same tips on my blog post about reducing children’s fear of doctor’s visits can apply when coping with the flu shot. As I recommended in the post, lying about the shot/spray will only make the medical experience much worse for the future. So it is important to be truthful and prepare your child for the doctor’s visit ahead of time. It’s also better not to skip the shot only because your child does not like it. Coping with the stress for the shot is generally easier than taking care of a very sick child for nearly a week and risking the possibility of more severe health issues that the flu can cause, such as pneumonia and other life-threatening complications.
3. Where can I get the flu shot?
Your doctor should be able to give you the shot. Also, many local supermarkets and pharmacies offer walk-in clinics. Most accept insurance, and often times insurance companies can reimburse the cost for the flu shot. Make sure to check with your insurance company about its policy. There are also many other local clinics that offer a flu shot, and some even offer it for free. You can find a clinic near you by calling your city/town hall or visiting your town website.
For more information about the flu and flu shots, please visit http://www.flu.gov/#.
We would always love to see you in the Museum, but if you think you have the flu or any contagious illnesses, please rest at home and visit when you know you can fully enjoy the Museum!