5 reasons it's still important to get your flu shot
(BPT) - As our country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, the threat of the pandemic will become more complicated by increasing cases of the flu, making more people ill and putting further strain on the U.S. health care system.
Pediatric epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist Dr. Emily Godbout from Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU offers five crucial reasons everyone should get a flu shot this year.
1. Flu shots help reduce serious respiratory illness
While some people who get vaccinated may still contract influenza, the flu shot typically prevents about 70 of 100 people who receive it from developing a moderate to severe flu infection. So even though the vaccine might not completely prevent the flu, it can help keep you from getting sick enough that you have to go to the hospital.
“Reducing the overall burden of respiratory illnesses is really important to help protect vulnerable populations at risk for severe disease,” said Godbout, “And it also helps lessen the resulting burden on our health care system, which is crucial throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Godbout said that while practices people follow to help guard against COVID-19, such as handwashing, social distancing and wearing masks, will probably help decrease the spread of influenza, the flu shot is still the single most effective way to reduce the spread of the flu.
2. Flu shots are safe
“The flu shot is very safe and effective at helping prevent severe disease and hospitalization,” Godbout said. “I know people might have reservations about coming into the doctor’s office, but I can assure everyone that our providers are really vigilant about taking appropriate precautions to make sure everyone is safe.”
The doctor also pointed out that patients will not contract influenza from the vaccine. “The virus is inactivated,” she said, “so it can’t actually cause the flu infection after you get the shot.”
Flu shots are recommended for anyone six months old and older.
3. Flu shots are updated every year
“The U.S. flu vaccine is reviewed every single year and updated to match circulating flu viruses,” said Godbout. “The flu vaccine can typically protect against three or four different viruses. Since the virus changes from year to year, immunization or natural infection from the previous year is not protective."
She also said that our antibody response — what helps us fight the virus — can decrease over time, so a yearly dose will help boost the antibody response before the start of the influenza season.
4. Influenza and COVID-19 share some overlapping symptoms
It’s important to know that some symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza are similar. If you have symptoms you are concerned about, it’s best to call your health care provider right away. You may need to be tested for both the flu and COVID-19 to be certain what is causing you to be sick, so your doctor can recommend the best course of treatment.
While having the flu shot doesn't mean you can't get the flu, as discussed above, a vaccination will at least lessen the severity of your symptoms — giving you and your loved ones peace of mind.
Reducing the spread of flu cases overall, by getting vaccinated, will help cut down on the number of seriously ill patients that clinics and hospitals need to diagnose and treat, which will help everyone get through the winter season more easily.
5. A flu shot protects you throughout the season
Now is a good time to get vaccinated. It takes a couple of weeks for antibodies to develop in your body, but the vaccination will continue to protect you throughout the worst months of the flu season.
Godbout said, "We will continue to offer the flu shot throughout the fall and winter."
For the latest on flu and COVID-19, visit vcuhealth.org.
For a parent of a child diagnosed with a chronic illness like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, the future can be scary and overwhelming. Resources are available to help families make sense of many diseases and ailments, and some of these organizations even offer tools specifically designed to help support the care of a child patient
Understanding Pediatric Chronic Illnesses
How families can manage inflammatory bowel diseases
(Family Features) For a parent of a child diagnosed with a chronic illness, the future can be scary and overwhelming. Assembling a medical team and beginning to formulate a treatment plan, even becoming familiar with a glossary of new terminology, can be taxing.
Resources are available to help families make sense of many diseases and ailments, and some of these organizations even offer tools specifically designed to help support the care of a child patient. For example, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is a leading resource for families navigating inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
What is IBD?
Crohn’s disease may occur in any part of the large intestine (also called the colon). In fact, it can happen anywhere in the entire digestive system. However, it most commonly develops right where the small and large intestine meet. In ulcerative colitis, only the colon and rectum are affected.
No one knows for sure what causes Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, but experts believe several factors may lead to the development of the diseases, including genes, environmental elements like viruses and bacteria, and inappropriate immune reactions.
What are the symptoms?
“It is critical that if you suspect your child has inflammatory bowel disease, you seek care with a qualified pediatric gastroenterologist who can carefully and efficiently help determine the diagnosis and begin a treatment plan to help your child feel better, thrive, and maximize quality of life,” said Andrew Grossman, MD, pediatric gastroenterologist and chair of the pediatric affairs committee of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.
How does it affect children?
They are often overwhelmed by the emotional and psychological side effects of the disease.
Learning how to manage the disease is not always easy for children. Parents play an important role in educating their children about IBD, including teaching them they need to take their health seriously and take responsibility for caring for themselves.
How can IBD be managed?
Maintaining your child’s health may also involve lifestyle accommodations, like organizing your schedule for ample bathroom breaks when away from home. You may also need to work closely with your child’s school to manage absences and academic performance along with any medical care that needs to take place during school hours.
Many families also find value in building a network of supportive friends and loved ones. One example, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation offers Camp Oasis – a co-ed residential camp program that allows children to meet others like them in a safe and enriching environment.
Another resource is justlikemeibd.org , a website featuring stories and videos from teens with IBD as well as information on school, dating, managing stress and diet, research updates, and resources for parents.
Is your child ready to manage his or her own care?
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
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