Seasonal Flu Discussion with Pediatrician, Dr. Marty Baker: Why Influenza is Still a Deadly Threat
The 2020 – 2021 flu season saw lower than average activity. Experts believe this is likely due to COVID-19 precautions such as masking, social distancing and an increased vigilance with handwashing and other infection control measures taken by the public. Dr. Marty Baker, pediatrician with CaroMont Pediatric Partners, wants his patients to know that this is unlikely to happen again, and while COVID precautions remain in place, individuals, families and children are working to get back into normal activities and routines. Dr. Baker shares what to expect for the 2021 – 2022 flu season and how to best protect you and your family:
“It is reasonable to assume flu activity will be higher this year. We had a lot of viral respiratory illness this past summer, likely because these viruses began circulating again as we resumed pre-pandemic activities. It remains exceedingly important to get the flu vaccine every year.”
Dr. Baker’s Recommendations for the 2021 – 2022 Flu Season
There are many benefits to getting vaccinated for seasonal flu. Not only can it reduce the severity of flu symptoms and illness, but also it can help avoid doctors’ visits, missed days from work or school, and help prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. Important information to consider when getting vaccinated for seasonal flu:
- Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at higher risk of serious complications from influenza due to underlying medical conditions and/or age and risk category. Learn more about your risk here: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/index.htm
- Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different groups of people:
- There are flu shots approved for use in children as young as 6 months old and flu shots approved for use in adults 65 years and older.
- Flu shots also are recommended for pregnant people and people with certain chronic health conditions.
- The nasal spray flu vaccine is approved for use in non-pregnant people who are 2 years through 49 years of age. People who are pregnant and people with certain medical conditions should not receive the nasal spray flu vaccine (not available at all locations, please consult your healthcare provider for more information).
- CDC does not recommend any specific flu vaccine over another. The most important thing is for all people 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine every year.
Dr. Baker Discusses Common Flu Myths
As a pediatrician, I hear the following statements from patients and families, and I want to ensure everyone is fully informed based on science and experience. Here are a few of the most common myths I hear:
The flu vaccination gave me the flu.
This is scientifically impossible. The injectable vaccine contains nothing that can grow in the body. It is an inactivated form of the virus and cannot give anyone the flu.
The flu mist is a live attenuated version of the virus which is deactivated at the body’s core temperature. It is administered in the nasal passage which is much cooler than the body’s core temperature. As a precaution, it cannot be given to high-risk individuals.
I’ve never had the flu, so I don’t need the vaccine.
This is, simply, good luck. Continue to be vigilant with good hand hygiene and stay away from those infected, but still, the vaccination is the best preventative method to avoid getting the flu.
It’s better to get the flu and let the body’s natural defense take care of it.
The flu is a deadly virus. It is never better to get a deadly virus in your system and hope your body’s natural defense is up to par. And should your body build a defense against one strain of the flu, remember the vaccine will administer defense against several different strains. In some seasons, two or three strains will circulate.
I don’t want to get the vaccine too early.
While it is ideal to get your flu vaccine before the beginning of flu season in October, it is never too late to protect yourself and those you love against the flu.
Flu vaccinations are available at CaroMont Health primary care practices and clinics across our region. Find a location near you.