Flu Season Is Here: How to Protect Your Family From a Dangerously Bad Bug

fluFall brings many things. That crisp, autumn breeze we were so desperate for during the steamy summer months. Those amazing yellow, red, and golden hues of changing leaves. But fall also means flu season, which can be deadly for some. Most doctors say the best way to avoid getting sick is a flu shot, but many people are still on the fence about the vaccination.

So The Stir sat down with Dr. Amisha Malhorta, a specialist in Pediatric Allergy, Infectious Disease, and Immunology at Rutgers' Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, to ask her about the best way to protect your family this season.

Who needs a flu shot? The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated. Still, records show only 1/2 of adults get vaccinated for the flu. That number is even smaller for children.

More from The Stir: How to Tell the Difference Between a Cold and the Flu

A flu shot isn't the only vaccination option, right? There are two options. There is the usual shot you get in the arm that contains a dead flu virus. But there's also FluMist Quadrivalent, a nasal spray made with a weakened flu virus. Best part is, it's a needle-free option so your kid won't flip out about getting a shot.pin

Is one vaccination more effective? Efficacy of the FluMist Quadrivalent has been shown to be more effective than the shot in children.

Can't you get the flu from a flu vaccination? No. You don't get sick from it. During the winter, we have a lot of viruses circulating, not just influenza. If you get sick afterwards, it's probably just a bad cold and not the flu.

Does getting the vaccination guarantee my family won't get sick this season? There is no way to predict what will circulate. There are many strains of the flu and the shot and FluMist can protect you against four strains. But the CDC creates a vaccination of what we think is most likely to be out there. But even if there is a mismatch year when the vaccine doesn't match the strain, the vaccination could still give you some cross protection.

What's the worst thing that could happen if I get the flu? Every year, the CDC estimates 200,000 people get hospitalized with complications from the flu. When children get the flu, they often don't eat or drink, they get dehydrated, and they have low white blood cell count. When your white blood cells are low, you are more susceptible to other viruses or respiratory infections. Among the most serious complications are pneumonia or even death.

What's the best thing to do if I get the flu? Stay home so you don't spread it. Some doctor's offices have quick tests for the flu and there are anti-virals you can take, but they have to be given within the first day and most people don't realize they have the flu that early on.

When can we stop worrying about catching the flu? Flu season can last all the way until spring.

Does your family get the flu shot? Why or why not?


Image via superhua/Flickr       

kid health, vaccinations


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2boys... 2boysmama311

Growing up I don't ever remember mass media coverage regarding flu season. 

There were no flu shots or hand sanitizers. You washed your hands, covered your mouth when you coughed and went about your day. If you did get it, you stayed home and got better. I don't understand why it is suddenly a "very scary" illness. There have always been deaths from the flu, I don't think the numbers have drastically increased. 

MamaD... MamaDV1012

My whole family gets the flu shot annually.  My kids are both asthmatic so the mist is not an option for them. 

nonmember avatar NoWay

LOL??? What is so funny about this article that made you laugh. My kids and I get the flu shot every year. I'd rather not take a chance on getting sick and I am not afraid of vaccinations.

Samantha Penird

HELL no. My father got Guillain-Barre Syndrome from the flu shot and became fully paralyzed from it, he eventually recovered and years later his muscles are slowly deteriorating and the doctors say that he will eventually fully paralyzed again, if he doesn't die before then. He was a healthy man before he got the shot and now he's wheelchair ridden. It's pharma people like these who aren't taught the vaccine injuries and that make money off of the shots and then go around saying it's "completely safe" that piss me off. The shot is NOT safe and the FluMist sheds so anyone who is around that person could catch the flu because it's a live virus. I recommend everyone doing their own unbiased research on the subject because more people die and/or get injured from the flu shot/flu mist than the flu itself.

Anna Meacham

We don't get the flu shot, and don't get the flu. Growing up, we never got the shot, and even travelling internationally, we still didn't get the flu. Most people I know that get the flu, have had the shot.

Teri_25 Teri_25

Samantha, you took the words out of my mouth. I don't think very many people at all realize the mist sheds the virus, so it IS possible for you to become sick from it, or for people who are in close contact with you to get the flu from it. I personally have gotten the flu shot every year for the past 6 or 7 years, and not once did I end up with the flu. However when I was a kid, I got the flu every year, and sometimes twice in the same flu season. I even know when I have the flu because I get the same specific dream that I only have when I am sick with the flu.

nicki... nicki.hemingway

I can't even begin to start tackling the inaccuracies in this article.  Stir Fail.

nonmember avatar Lauren

Really? The vaccine is all you cover in an article on how to protect your family from the flu?! Even if you do decide to get the vaccine (which can cause the same symptoms as the flu according to the manufacturer's own labeling) there are SO many other things you can be doing to protect your family. How about a discussion on nutrition and vitamins/supplements to boost your immune system, proper sanitation, etc. Our country already thinks that we can eat, drink and live recklessly as long as there is a pill or a shot to correct the harm we're doing to our immune systems (and every other body system for that matter) and this article only perpetuates that idea.

Liz132 Liz132

What a waste of time. I thought this article was ways to prevent the flu not how to get a very ineffective vaccine

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