What You Need to Know about the Flu Shot 2014 – National Influenza Vaccination Week #NIVW2014

{This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.}

Yo me vacuno contra la influenza.We are in the middle of National Influenza Vaccination Week – December 7 – 13, 2014 #NIVW2014. Each year, about this time I am reminded that it’s time for our flu shots and each year I am met with questions from concerned parents, family, and friends who have wonder why we choose to get a flu shot.  I think that’s perfectly normal and I’m actually glad that people take the time to seek answers.

Since this vaccination is important to me, I’m happy to share the information that I learn about the flu vaccine with them and with you, queridos. I had the opportunity to ask a doctor some questions about the flu shot, who should get it and why it’s important. (Because I don’t have a medical degree and I thought you might prefer information from someone who does. wink, wink) Dr. Marietta Vazquez has over 20 years of experience in the medical field and is currently an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Yale University School of Medicine and she helped answer my questions below.

Parents can find answers to questions about the flu, flu vaccine, or additional information at www.cdc.gov/flu.

Interview With Dr. Marietta Vazquez

Me: Why is it important to get a flu shot every year?

Dr. Vazquez: The flu vaccine is the best way modern medicine currently has to protect against this potentially serious disease. As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination can provide protection against the flu and should continue.

Even if you’ve already gotten sick with the flu, you can still benefit from a flu vaccine if you haven’t already been vaccinated. Many different flu viruses can spread and cause illness in a season, and the vaccine protects against 3 or 4 different flu viruses depending on which vaccine you get.

Me: What is the NEW information about the flu shot 2014?

Dr. Vazquez: Early data suggests that the current 2014-2015 flu season could be severe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges immediate vaccination for anyone still unvaccinated this season and recommends prompt treatment
with antiviral drugs for people at high risk of complications who develop flu.

So far this year, seasonal influenza A H3N2 viruses have been most common. There often are more severe flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths during seasons when these viruses predominate. For example, H3N2 viruses were predominant during the 2012-2013, 2007-2008, and 2003-2004 seasons, the three seasons with the highest mortality levels in the past decade. All were characterized as “moderately severe.”

It’s too early to say for sure that this will be a severe flu season, but Americans should be prepared. We can save lives with a three-pronged effort to fight the flu: vaccination, prompt treatment for people at high risk of complications, and preventive health measures, such as staying home when you’re sick, to reduce flu spread.

Me: What do you think are obstacles for the Hispanic community when it comes to getting a flu shot?

Dr. Vazquez: Some of the hurdles are access to resources, lack of understanding about the need for the vaccine; misconception that the flu vaccine isn’t safe; additionally some people may be afraid of needles, or think they are not at risk because they do not have a chronic illness. Anyone, even healthy people, can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.

Parents can find answers to questions about the flu, flu vaccine, or additional information at www.cdc.gov/flu.

Me: For a child/person that has allergies of any sort, what do they need to be aware of before they get the flu shot?

Dr. Vazquez: Some children 2 through 8 years old should not get a nasal spray vaccine. This includes:

  • Children who are getting aspirin therapy, or taking medicines that contain aspirin;
  • Children with a history of egg allergy;
  • Children 2 through 4 years old who have had asthma or wheezing during the last 12 months;
  • Children who have taken influenza antiviral medications (for example, Tamiflu® or Relenza®) within the last 48 hours.

If you have questions about which vaccine is best for you, talk to your doctor or other health care professional.

Me: Who is considered to be at high-risk for developing flu-related complications?

Dr. Vazquez: Some people are considered to be at high risk for developing serious complications from flu illness, including pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions, those who are over 65 years of age. For these people, getting the flu can cause serious complications, like pneumonia, bronchitis, or a worsening of existing health conditions, which can lead to hospitalization or even death.

It is important for those around you to also get vaccinated so they do not spread it to those who are at high risk.

Learn about Who Needs A Flu Vaccine.

Me: Why is it important to get a flu shot if you are healthy?

Dr. Vazquez: Almost all family members 6 months and older are recommended to receive a yearly flu vaccination. Even healthy people can get sick enough to miss work or school for a significant amount of time or even be hospitalized.

Once vaccinated, you can enjoy this holiday season knowing that you have taken the single best step to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu. As long as flu viruses are circulating, it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine this December, or even into January and beyond.

In addition to getting vaccinated, take – and encourage children to take – everyday steps that can help prevent the spread of germs. Stay away from people who are sick, and stay home when you are sick. Cover coughs and sneezes and wash hands often with soap and water.

Take everyday steps that can help prevent the spread of germs. #NIVW2014

Parents can find answers to questions about the flu, flu vaccine, or additional information at www.cdc.gov/flu.

If you or your child get sick with the flu, be sure to take antiviral drugs, as prescribed by your doctor or other health professional. Antiviral drugs can treat flu illness. They can make people feel better and get better sooner and may prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia, for example, that can lead to hospitalization and even death. These drugs are different from antibiotics, but they also need to be prescribed by a doctor. They work best when started during the first 2 days of illness.

The Flu Vaccine Finder

The Flu Vaccine Finder locates flu vaccine clinics near you. Simply enter your zip code or city and state to find mapped locations of flu vaccine clinics.

Thanks, Dr. Vazquez for answering my questions about the flu vaccine! Queridos, if you have more questions about the flu, flu vaccine, or need additional information, please visit www.cdc.gov/flu.

Dr. Marietta Vazquez has over 20 years of experience in the medical field and is currently an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Yale University School of Medicine. She is also the Associate Director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Yale, Director of the Yale-Children’s Hispanic Clinic and Co-director of the Yale Pediatrics Global Health Tract. Dr. Vazquez has been working with the CDC and currently sits on the CDC’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices.

Melanie Mendez-Gonzales

Original content creator for ¿Qué Means What? Texas Latina mom blogger celebrating culture in education, entertainment and family life.

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