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The CDC Says Prepare to Take a Shot this Flu Season

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Has your family decried the use of needles?   If so, you’ll need to work on their fear and anxiety.  The CDC has provided guidelines for this season’s influenza vaccinations and they are clear:  “The nasal spray flu vaccine should not be used during 2016 – 2017.”  For parents with children who have needle anxiety, the change may present a bit of challenge.

With the nasal spray inoculation off of the table, there is concern that fewer people (both adults and children) will get a flu shot this season.  However, it is extremely important that all Americans are protected.  Vaccination availability has contributed to the significant reduction of those infected by the flu as well as the number of flu-associated deaths.  Without a vaccinated population, the country is at risk of widespread flu outbreak.

The flu is a common viral infection that is caused by the influenza virus.  “Flu” virus is prevalent across the United States from fall to early spring.  Each year, millions of people are stricken with this illness.  The flu is highly contagious and is easily spread by daily activities including hugs and handshakes.   For people in high risk groups, the flu can be debilitating and, in some cases, it can be deadly.

Who should get a flu shot?  Anyone over the age of six months should get a flu shot.  Babies younger than this age may not be vaccinated.  Therefore, it is very important that family members, health care professionals, and daycare workers get their flu shots.  Certain infections, such as ear infections, sinus infections, bronchial infections, and pneumonia, are at high risk of complications from the flu.  Young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with chronic health conditions, including asthma and other lung conditions, should be sure to get their flu shots early.

In regards to the anxiety associated with needles and shots, people should know that shots don’t hurt that much (really).  Most health care professionals get it. They know that patients hate the idea of getting shots and will go out of their way to make a needle stick as pain free as possible.  However, sharing these words will not always calm the nerves of a child or adult who strongly dislikes the idea of being pricked.  Here are a few tips to help get through the vaccination:

 

 

  • Children sense fear and react to it, so parents should not show fear when they get their own shot.
  • Schedule the entire family to take the shot together and encourage adults and older teens to get pricked before smaller children.
  • Provide a distraction, such as something to suck on (lollipop, small hard candy, pacifier), access to a toy, or a great view of a favorite television show.
  • Right before the needle breaks the skin, take a deep breath and blow it out hard. (It makes it more fun if you say “blow, blow, blow” until all the air is gone.)
  • Apply pressure to another spot on the body during the shot and on the shot site immediately afterwards.
  • Resist the urge to watch the procedure…  Just look away.

The annual flu vaccine is developed based on research that determines which strain of the flu is most likely to be prevalent during the upcoming season.  However, as evidenced by the 2009 swine flu epidemic, there is no guarantee that the flu shot will provide 100% protection.  As a result, people should protect themselves by avoiding activities and interactions that could increase the spread of the illness.  

Everyone should be aware of common flu symptoms such as body aches and muscle pain; coughing, sneezing, and congestion; fever, chills, and fatigue; and sore throat, headache, and swollen glands.  Should a family member present with these symptoms, they should seek medical attention.  If caught early enough, symptoms and length of the flu may be reduced with the use of antiviral medications.  To protect others, anyone with flu symptoms should avoid spreading germs.  In addition, they should get plenty of rest as they wait for symptoms to subside.

This flu season, prepare yourself and your family for the flu shot per the CDC recommendations.  Schedule appointments for influenza vaccinations in the early fall before the flu virus has begun to infect people for you and your family. Don’t forget to be on the lookout for your own and other’s symptoms to help reduce the spread of the flu.

Information gathered from the Centers for Disease Control.

Visit the CDC website for more information about influenza.  

 

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