There Is Nothing Worse Than Seeing Your Child Suffer From Illness Why Wouldn't You Want To Do All You Can To Protect Them?
Dr Ginni Mansberg talks with Vaccine Hub about the upcoming flu season, and what you can do to protect your family this winter.
Q. People keep warning us about a severe flu season ahead. How do you know?
It’s hard to predict seasonal flu levels but past seasons here in Australia and overseas are a good guide. In 2014 we had almost 68,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in Australia1, while many more are likely to have gone unreported. This March we’ve also seen a sharp rise in cases on last year – this, as well as the fact the northern hemisphere (Europe & the US) have experienced an epidemic, with over 114,000 registered cases in the US 2014/2015.2
Q. I know there are some groups who should be vaccinated against the flu. What about everybody else? Should I be getting my children vaccinated for the flu?
I have six children, shared with my husband Daniel. If one person gets hit with the flu, it would be just like dominos! I always tell my older patients (aged 65 years+) to get the flu vaccine every year, as well as pregnant women and those people suffering a chronic condition – things like diabetes and asthma. Some flu vaccines are free for these groups, funded by the government, because they are most at risk of complications from the flu.
That said, flu can be incredibly unpleasant and costly for people of any age and vaccination is the best form of protection. There are flu vaccines available which are well tolerated in children from 6 months of age. It’s definitely something you should bring up with your doctor, who will have the best advice for you and your family.
Flu can be particularly serious in children – see Rosie’s Story. Children are much more likely than adults to contract influenza 3, because of their close interaction at childcare and school, which can then be transmitted to the wider community.
I think if you have the chance to potentially save yourself, your husband, your kids or your neighbours from being bedridden and feverish – why wouldn’t you? It’s a small cost, with potentially big savings in both time and money.
Q. So how much does a flu shot cost for others?
The cost of a flu vaccine varies, depending on a few different factors – see your GP to find out. Rest assured it’s minor when compared with the cost of falling ill!
Q. What are some other ways to protect your family against the flu?
While vaccination is hands down best way to avoid getting the flu, it’s important to make sure your immune system is in good shape. This means plenty of sleep, a good diet and moderate daily exercise. Tackling stress will also be important.
Another important factor is good hand hygiene before eating. Washing hands with soap before eating is an easy measure to stop the spread of germs.
From grandparents to children, and everyone in between, stay well this flu season!
1. National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, 2014, http://www9.health.gov.au/cda/source/rpt_3.cfm
2. Center for Disease Control, Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report, http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/#S1
3. Influenza Specialist Group, Influenza in Children, http://www.isg.org.au/index.php/clinical-information/influenza-and-children/