5 things parents should know about the 2015-2016 flu season

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Flu season is here. Health experts are urging parents to have children vaccinated against influenza as soon as possible.

Influenza-Deaths
Influenza Deaths (CDC)

Even healthy children can die from the flu. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 146 children died during the 2013-2014 flu season from complications of flu.

Dr. Ryan Redman, the Emergency Room Director at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital said it is important for children and adults to get the flu vaccine every year. Children as young as 6 months can get the vaccine.

While the flue vaccine is essential for children, Dr. Redman said it is also important for adults to get vaccinated every year. “Vaccinated adults can protect babies who can’t be vaccinated,” he said.

  1. Flu vaccine is essential for children- Dr. Redman says the flu is common and unpredictable. He said it can cause serious complications including death, pneumonia, bronchitis and dehydration)
  2. Now is the time to get vaccinated- In addition to taking 2 weeks to be effective, Dr. Redman said infants and children receiving the flu vaccine for the first time may need two doses, administered 4 weeks apart.
  3. It does not have to be a shot. Most can get the nasal spray vaccine instead- The inactivated influenza vaccine is given by injection & approved for children 6 months and older. The live vaccine is a nasal spray, FluMist, approved for patients 2  through 49 years of age.
  4. You can’t get the flu from the flu vaccine- Flu vaccines are made from killed or weakened viruses. Dr. Redman says Mild systemic symptoms, such as nausea, lethargy, headache, muscle aches and chills can occur. Side effects are mild, unlike the flu. If you are vaccinated, but still get the flu- your symptoms will be milder and the duration of illness will be shorter than if you had not been vaccinated.)
  5. This year’s flu vaccine is expected to work better than last year’s vaccine. Dr. Redman says last flu season was particularly sever because the predominant strain was influenza A, called “H3N2,” which was not included in the vaccine. The vaccine for the 2015-2016 season contains the H2N2 strain.

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