Today Noah got to visit his pediatrician, whom we love. She’s so encouraging. She gets excited when she sees Noah and shows him off. She also takes time to listen to us, because even though I too am a pediatrician, I still have questions. There are no words to express how much we appreciate her and what she does for our son.
The Flu Shot: Separating Fact From Fiction
Noah received his first flu shot today. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that the flu shot gives you the flu. I thought I would give you MY reasons why I think the flu shot is important and some myths about the flu shot. I know you all have your own reasons about why or why you don’t get the flu shot. My goal as a doctor is that you have accurate information when making these decisions, but realizing that it is YOUR decision.
3 Reasons To Get The Flu Shot
- Getting the flu is awful; why not try to avoid it. You feel miserable, you miss work or school, and you can’t do the things you enjoy. One little poke could help you stay healthy. Shoot you don’t even have to have a poke if you fit the criteria it can go up your nose 🙂
- Getting the flu can be deadly, especially those with underlying health conditions, such as heart conditions (which is quite common in Down syndrome) or asthma. It is also more risky for those who are simply young or old. During my training, I saw several previously healthy kids die of the flu and if a shot can prevent that how awesome is that.
- When you get the flu you put other people at risk of getting the flu and having the above happen. You can’t get the flu shot until you are 6 months old. So those who can’t be vaccinated are actually probably the most at risk for severe complications. We have to do what we can to protect them and the flu shot is one way to do it.
Flu Shot Myth: I Get The Flu Every Time I Get The Flu Shot
- It is actually impossible for you to get the flu from the flu shot, as the virus in the shot is dead. Only live viruses can get you sick. Now the nasal spray is a live WEAKENED virus and that is why those with immune compromise should not get the nasal spray.
- You may feel awful for the 24 hours after you get the flu shot. Your body is creating an immune response to the dead virus so that when you meet the real thing your body can attack it. You may have a fever or feel achy, but that is not being sick with the flu.
- You actually do have the flu because you were exposed when you went to get your flu shot. It takes about two weeks for your body to be ready to fend off the flu, so if you are exposed during that time you can still get sick. I am sorry if this happens to you as you had the best intentions
- The flu shot didn’t cover for this year’s flu is another reason you may get sick. A few years ago the World Health Organization projected the wrong strain and a lot of people ended up getting the flu. They do a lot of research, but they can’t guarantee anything. Based on their research the flu vaccine contains the most likely strains projected to happen that year. There is not just one strain. They usually include a type A and type B strain as well as the H1N1 (swine flu) now. All can be present during the flu season. Based on what I have seen (or not seen this year) I think the chances are good we are covered.
A Few Warnings About The Flu Shot
As with everything involving a medical decision you should consult with your own doctor and not just listen to me. There are things that will change what type of flu shot you get, what office you are sitting in when you get it, and if you should even get it at all.
The flu mist should not be given to those less than 2, people over 50, those whose immune system is not up to par either due to illness or medication, ASTHMA, or any wheezing prior to age 5, chronic heart or lung disease, diabetes, kidney failure, children/adolescents receiving aspirin, pregnant women, egg allergy, and those with a history of Guillain-Barre (a condition where you become temporally paralyzed from the legs up). So in other words the flu mist should only be given to healthy individuals age 2-49 (that means no chronic illnesses).
The reason behind all those warnings is that the flu mist IS a live virus and there is a chance you can get sick from the vaccine. However, it actually has been shown to work better than the shot, so if it is an option go for it. It also does not contain any thimerosal so for those of you concerned about that it is a great option.
Yes the flu vaccine is created by using chicken eggs. So if you have an egg allergy there is a chance you may react to the flu shot. However, you can go to your allergist and they will do a skin test to see if you will react to the vaccine. If there is no response, you are good to go to get the shot. It is actually more common to not react even with an egg allergy. If there is a response, you and your doctor have to discuss if the benefit outweighs the risk. Allergic reactions can be treated so even with a reaction you can get the flu shot.
Previous Adverse Reaction
If you have had a severe allergic reaction, a serious reaction, or if you have ever had Guillain-Barre (temporary paralysis that moves from the feet up) you should have a lengthy discussion with your doctor if you desire the flu shot again. My best guess is that no one would be interested in the flu shot again after those types of reactions.
A Word On Thimerosal
I did not write this post to argue about mercury or the causes of Autism. It is a never ending argument and one that I feel has greatly effected the protection of our children. In all honesty I probably shouldn’t have gotten myself started as I get fired up about this topic. Single dose vaccines (meaning they only use one vial per child and don’t stick it back in the fridge) do not contain thimerosal. Those vials that do have multi-doses use thimerosal as a preservative. In 1999 there was a decision to remove thimerosal from all vaccines despite their being any evidence that it actually causes problems. For children under 6 the only chance at exposure is with the multi-dose flu vaccine.
There has been no evidence to show that thimerosal or mercury for that matter is associated with causing Autism.
If you guys want more information the expert on vaccines in my opinion is Paul Offit, MD, and I recommend you at least read his standpoint by either what is provided on the internet or in his books before you finalize your decision on vaccines. As for my experience, I have never in my career as a medical doctor seen a case of H. Flu (Hib), measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), Polio (IPV), or tetanus. I have seen maybe 5 cases of Chicken Pox which were all mild. I was hospitalized myself at 6 months of age due to Chicken Pox and a staph infection. Those who have trained me have seen all of these diseases and watched children have brain damage, become crippled and die because of them. The fact that I have not treated one child with these conditions is a MIRACLE in my opinion. I have watched children die from pertussis and the flu, both which can be prevented with vaccination. It is something I hope no parent has to experience.
Noah Has To Go Back For One More
When your child gets the flu shot for the first time they usually have to get two. Noah will be going back in one month to get his second flu shot to be fully covered.
The Day Didn’t End After The Flue Shot: Therapy and Food Time!
Our day continued after our visit to our primary care physician (PCP). We went to therapy, where Noah continued to act like a rock star despite having to get shots earlier in the day. By the way, you’ll notice the toy Noah’s physical therapist is using in this video was also featured on our best gift ideas post….this is seriously one of the best toys you can can buy under 10 dollars!
We also did some advances in his feeding. We have been using pureed fruits or vegetables for the last few months and today we thought we would try meats. They don’t smell nearly as good. I haven’t mastered the art of pureeing meats so I am using store bought versions. I have heard that a lot of kids aren’t fans (I really can’t blame them based on the smell), but Noah seemed to not mind. He gobbled it down just as he usually does.
We also thought we would try some Gerber Baby Puffs and let Noah attempt to feed himself. This is when knowledge of grasp would have been helpful. Noah could not quite figure out how to pick these up. If I had only known better, I would have realized that his grasp was not ready to pick up the puffs as it requires a pincher grasp where at this point Noah only consistently uses the palmar grasp. (If you’d like to learn more about grasping, I discussed the various grasps in a post entitled: Learn To Grasp: A Cheap And Easy Fine Motor Skills Exercise Your Child Can Do At Home.) Oh well, he still liked it when we put these in his mouth. It was a new experience for him to have something crunchy. They dissolve quickly so they are easy for the child to swallow. We will keep practicing and someday soon, Noah will be chomping on these all by himself.
We sure packed a lot into this day. 🙂
Do you have a memorable day of how many things you were actually able to accomplish? I am always impressed at what some families are capable of doing ☺