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Flu Shot Time: Fighting Off Serious Illness Ahead of Time
As school is back in session and weather changes draw near, pediatricians are reminding parents to schedule flu shots for their children.
This year, pediatricians like Dr. Stanley Spinner, Chief Medical Officer of Texas Children’s Pediatrics are worried, and they are sounding the alarm early.
“The health patterns that occur in the southern hemisphere, where it is winter right now, are normally a good indicator of what is to come for us,” said Dr. Spinner. “For this reason, we are anticipating an extremely busy flu season. We know the virus will be widespread and we want parents to protect their families.”
The flu vaccine is life-saving
According to Dr. Spinner, the absolute best protection against influenza — the flu — is the flu vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children ages 6 months and older should be vaccinated annually. Anyone younger than 6 months should be protected by having all eligible family members vaccinated.
In addition, the CDC advises families to vaccinate annually because the vaccine is updated every year to protect against the constantly changing flu virus.
Texas Children’s physicians consistently work to increase the rate of flu vaccinations among patients, as it currently sits at around 50%.
“The biggest misconception is that if you take the flu vaccine, you won’t get the flu,” the long-time pediatrician noted. “But this isn’t accurate. You may still get sick, but if you’ve taken the vaccine you are extremely unlikely to become severely ill and the virus will not be life-threatening.”
To make matters even more important, Dr. Spinner said his team is also preparing parents for high rates of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19 this season. Children are able to get their flu and COVID vaccines during the same appointment.
A healthy immune system helps
Texas Children’s pediatricians teach good nutrition, regular exercise and adequate sleep as building blocks to improving a child’s immunity.
“These behaviors — not any one vitamin or pill — are key to boosting your children’s immunity,” Dr. Spinner said. “And although they are excellent supplements to vaccinations, they cannot replace the protection that vaccines provide. The development and administration of vaccines is second only to clean water in what has improved our public health in the world. The importance of vaccines cannot be overstated.”
Flu vaccine appointments are now available at all Texas Children’s Pediatrics locations.