Flu season has officially begun — and the single best way to prevent your family or you from contracting the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season. The CDC emphasizes that the benefits of flu vaccinations are numerous and well researched: they can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization; they are an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions; vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy; and, getting vaccinated also protects people around you who are more susceptible to illness, such as babies, young children and seniors.
However, the most common question we hear from moms-to-be is “is it truly safe for my baby and me to get this shot?” This is obviously a question on many women’s minds when you consider the following statistic: only about half of pregnant women get vaccinated. What makes the preceding statement so troubling is that pregnant women are more susceptible to life-threatening complications (like pneumonia) if they get the flu. Also consider the following statistic: the flu shot has been given safely to millions of pregnant women over decades and has not been shown to cause harm the mothers or their babies. And the flu shot doesn’t just protect the mother-to-be: the baby benefits, as well after birth — studies show that babies whose moms received the flu vaccine during pregnancy are less likely to catch the virus after they're born. Furthermore, babies that receive the shot in utero are protected against the virus until they’re old enough to get their own shot, at six months.
How about toddlers and young children, is the flu shot just as necessary? Again, the answer to this question: YES. Like pregnant women, children younger than five years of age – especially those under two years of age – are at high risk of serious flu complications. These complications include:
- Brain dysfunction
- Sinus problems and ear infections
- In rare cases, flu complications can lead to death
The importance of getting flu shots for your family far outweighs any perceived risks. Come to your neighborhood CareWell to receive your vaccination — we’re open seven days a week and no appointment is needed.