Flu 101 With Nurse Sharon

As flu season makes its annual introduction, my goal is to equip all TCS parents to be informed “flu detectors.” I recognize there is a plethora of misinformation on the flu circulating around the internet from “the flu shot causes the flu” to “it’s good for children to get the flu because it’ll build their immunity.” Well, Nurse Sharon, thanks to the perpetually reliable Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), is here to set the record straight! Let’s partner together this flu season to keep TCS as flu-free as possible!

Here are some answers to a few common flu questions:

When is flu season?

According to the CDC, flu season occurs in the fall and winter, while December through February is when flu activity reaches its all-time high. However, as any parent knows, various influenza viruses circulate year-round, so you may find your child receiving a flu diagnosis in June. Yikes!

Should your child get the flu shot?

Short answer: YES!! Children under five years old are at a heightened risk for flu-related complications. From dehydration to brain dysfunction and everything unpleasant in between, the flu can wreak unnecessary havoc on your child’s body. The flu shot is the #1 way to help protect your child from the flu and its nasty complications. The CDC recommends everyone, that means you too, should get the flu shot by the end of October annually. Thank goodness you still have a few days left! If you don’t make it by Halloween, don’t panic. The vaccine is available throughout flu season. Better late than never, right?

Is the flu vaccine safe?

The CDC, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, joins me in saying a resounding, “YES!” The flu vaccine is made using strict safety and production measures. Very extensive research supports its safe status. It’s worth mentioning here that the flu vaccine does NOT cause the flu. The virus used in the vaccine is either inactive or consists of a particle that literally looks like the flu to your bodies immune system. How cool and science fiction does that sound?

I’ll finish with this. I recently attended an asthma conference held by CHOA and a pediatrician in attendance said with mild frustration, “I’ve not heard of a fatality caused by the flu vaccine, but I have heard of many fatalities caused by the flu.” This is clearly anecdotal evidence, but I support the sentiment entirely.

Does the flu vaccine actually work?

I’ll let CDC answer this one directly. “Recent studies show that the flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40 percent and 60 percent among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine. In general, current flu vaccines tend to work better against influenza B and influenza A(H1N1) viruses and offer lower protection against influenza A(H3N2) viruses.” (CDC, 2018)  

Okay, great! My child got the flu shot but contracted the flu anyway. Now what?

Here’s what the experts have to say:

When can my child return to school?

Your child must be fever-free (<100.3) for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications like Motrin, Tylenol, and Advil before returning to school. If the student has a fever at school, I will notify you and they are required to be checked out ASAP.

As many parents know, the flu hit TCS especially hard last year and I am committed to helping prevent a similar occurrence this year. Let’s partner together to ensure last year’s flu prevalence is not repeated!

Click here and here for more information from CHOA the CDC about the flu.