With winter approaching, so too is flu season. But the good news is, the higher the number of individuals who are vaccinated, the lower the chances of the flu virus spreading. So, forget about L.O.L. dolls: The best Christmas present you can get your kids this year is a flu vaccination.
1. Flu vaccines protect your children.
If a child contracts the flu, it can be very detrimental. They could end up being extremely unwell, and in rare cases, their lives could even be at risk. As well as putting their health in jeopardy, they will also miss out on school and social activities, which are crucial to their development.
Although all children will benefit from receiving the flu vaccination, there are some for whom it is particularly important, namely children with pre-existing conditions such as asthma or cardiac disorders. This is because for them, a bout of the flu is more dangerous, as it could lead to severe complications or medical events associated with their condition.
2. Flu vaccines protect your community.
As well as protecting your own child, vaccinating them will protect other members of the community, especially vulnerable individuals such as the elderly. This is because the more people who are vaccinated, the less likely the disease is to spread, in a phenomenon known as herd immunity.
With the current uptick in people refusing to vaccinate their children, it is up to individuals to take action and try and maximize the volume of people vaccinated. You can do this by ensuring you and your children are vaccinated.
3. Flu vaccinations reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
Studies have shown that even if you have the vaccination and still get the flu, it reduces the severity of your illness. One study showed that the flu vaccination reduced deaths, admissions to intensive care and hospital stay duration among flu-hospitalized patients.
The reason for this is that people who receive the flu vaccines receive benefits in the form of pre-existing cross-reactive memory of T-lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell), which would reduce the severity of the infection even in the absence of protective antibodies.
The best time to get vaccinated is in October, at the beginning of the winter season. Although if you didn’t get around to it then, don’t worry — it’s still worth doing all the way into January. Early vaccinations from July to August are not recommended. The vaccine will be available at your local GP, as well as certain other pharmacies and clinics. It is also worth checking whether your child’s school is offering it.
Certain individuals who are allergic to any component of the vaccine should not receive it; specific questions about this should be directed to your nurse or GP. In general, side effects of the vaccination are mild and can include irritation or soreness around the injection site, and a low-grade fever.
There are a lot of negative opinions and stories surrounding vaccinations, which can discourage people from getting them. However, there is a substantial body of medical evidence which shows them to be effective at preventing disease. This is why it is recommended that you get your whole family vaccinated against the flu this winter season.