The One About the Flu Vaccine

flu vaccineI am excited to introduce our newest pediatrician at Cedar Park Pediatric & Family Medicine, Dr. Jacob LeBas, with a blog about the flu vaccine.  Dr. LeBas recently moved to Cedar Park with his wife and two cute kids after completing medical school and residency training in Louisiana.

We are starting to have reports of flu in the area and encourage flu vaccine for all of our patients, 6 months and older who are able to get it.  We are glad so many of you have already done so!

What is the Flu?

The flu is caused by the influenza virus. It is a contagious viral respiratory illness. Signs and symptoms of the flu include fever/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, nausea/vomiting and fatigue. The flu is spread by droplets when a person coughs or sneezes.

The flu can be a very serious illness, and it can lead to complications including bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and asthma exacerbation. It is important that young children, pregnant women and those with health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease receive the flu vaccine.

What is the best way to prevent getting the flu?

The Flu Vaccine! There are two forms of the flu vaccine available for kids, “the shot” and “the mist”.  The quadrivalent flu shot can be given starting at 6 months of age. The first year one receives the flu immunization, (if they are under nine years old) it is given in 2 doses, 1 month apart.

The quadrivalent nasal spray vaccine can be used from 2 – 49 years of age. It is a live attenuated vaccine, and it is not recommended for those that are pregnant or who have had recent wheezing. Unfortunately, the flu mist has been on back order at a national manufacturing level, and will be very hard to obtain this flu season.

“Cocooning” is one way that we can protect babies younger then 6 months. Since young babies are unable to have the flu vaccine, we can protect them by vaccinating all of their caregivers: including parents, siblings, and healthcare providers.

Can I get the flu from the vaccine?

No, one can not get the flu from the flu vaccine. The flu shot does not contain flu virus, but only pieces of the virus to illicit an immune response. The flu mist does contain live virus, but it is a weakened form of virus that can not cause illness in a healthy individual.

Is there medication to treat the flu?

Yes. The antiviral Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) can be effective in treating the flu if given in less then 48 hours from the start of symptoms. It can also be given in prophylactic doses if one has been exposed.

To help keep our community well and to prevent the spread of the flu, we offer a convenient, walk-in flu clinic for the entire family at our Cypress Creek location, Tuesday – Friday from 8:30am – 4:30pm and Saturdays 9am – 11am.  No appointment necessary.

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