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You, the flu and what to do

September 28, 2015

‘Tis the season- flu season, that is.

It may still feel scorching hot outside here in sunny Florida, but even as temperatures linger near the nineties the autumn season is headed our way. Unfortunately, so is the influenza virus.

Why the flu concerns you (and your kids)

I know we talk a lot about the flu every year, but there’s a reason healthcare professionals talk about it a lot. Because it’s important. Because the flu kills people. Every single year, it kills people. And for others, it causes serious complications and hospitalizations.

We also talk about the flu a lot because children are especially susceptible to this illness, and parents and healthcare professionals have a common goal- to keep our kids as healthy as possible.

You may be thinking that it couldn’t happen to your family because everybody in your family is relatively healthy. One of the greatest misunderstandings about the flu, though, is that it can have tragic consequences, even for healthy individuals.

What to expect this flu season

Just about the only thing we can predict about flu season before it starts is that it will be unpredictable.

Flu viruses are constantly changing, so it’s hard to know beforehand how severe the virus will be, when illnesses will peak and how many people will be affected. However, we do know that flu season tends to occur between October and May and generally peaks sometime between December and February.

We also know that the best way to protect yourself and your family is to get a flu vaccine every year. Flu vaccines tend to become ineffective over time, and flu viruses change as well, so it’s important to get the vaccine each year for maximum protection.

What can you do?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone over 6 months of age receive a flu vaccine. That’s right, they say everyone over the age of 6 months. Exceptions to this recommendation are very rare. If you aren’t sure whether you or your child should get a flu vaccine, talk to your doctor. Ask questions and share your concerns.

Children who are receiving the flu vaccine for the first time will need to receive two doses of the vaccine, approximately 4 weeks apart.

You should get the vaccine as soon as you can once it becomes available (preferably by October) as it takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to become fully effective. Check with your pediatrician’s office or your local pharmacy, as their supply of flu vaccine is likely already in or coming very soon.

Continue to practice common-sense precautions to avoid illness: stay away from sick people and wash your hands frequently with soap and water.