The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

October 24, 2012

Flu shot Q & A

By Jenny Hinson for the SNAP

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 — Who should get a flu shot?

Nearly everyone older than six months.  It is especially important for those who are likely to become very ill if they catch it. This includes children younger than two, pregnant women, adults 50 and older, the very overweight, those who live in a care facility and those with chronic medical problems, such as asthma or diabetes.

Can my child get the flu from a flu shot?

No. Some people have soreness in their arm. A few will have body aches, headache or fever that goes away after a day or two.

Does my child need a flu shot if he/she had one last year?

Yes, there are new strains in this year’s.

Why can my child still get sick even with the flu shot?

The flu shot only contains certain strains.  It cannot cover all strains of flu, nor does it cover the myriad other viruses that make us sick.  It usually takes about two weeks for the shot to work, and it keeps about 1/2 to 3/4 of those who get it from getting the flu.

Those who do get the flu after the shot usually have shorter and milder symptoms.

Can my child get the nasal mist instead of the shot?

Yes, if he is healthy and at least two years old.  The mist contains live virus and should not be given to anyone who has, or lives with someone who has, a very weakened immune system. It should not be given to pregnant women.

When should I keep my child home from school?

Do keep them home if they have flu-like symptoms. If they have a fever, they should stay home until they have had no fever (without the help of medicines) for 24 hours.

What are flu-like symptoms?

Common ones include fever, headache, cough, runny nose and achiness.

Should I take them to a doctor?

For regular flu symptoms, no. But if they have any chronic medical problems you should take them right away as medicine might shorten its course. After a couple of days of symptoms this medicine probably doesn’t help at all. You should also take them if they have any severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing, chest pain, bluish discoloration to the skin or lips, or dehydration.

If I don’t take them to a doctor, what can I do?

Give them plenty of fluids. For fever and pain you can give ibuprofen (Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Let them get plenty of rest.