People use “flu” as shorthand for any chest or tummy infection, but flu is short for influenza, which is really the mother of all bad respiratory tract infections. With influenza patients get a week of high (103-104) fevers, chills, body aches, and a racking cough that lingers for up to three weeks.
It’s not much fun, and worse still, going through influenza doesn’t guarantee you’ll never get the infection again since the virus changes frequently (remember H1N1) and outwits our immune system.
I get a flu vaccine every year because I don’t want to spread influenza from patient to patient.
I get a flu vaccine so I don’t miss work.
I get a flu vaccine because people die of influenza.
In the US, the CDC data estimates are anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 people die of influenza each year.
For kids under 19 years of age, the death rate for patients with influenza-related pneumonia averages about 100 people a year.
Some years are bad influenza years. Some years are less bad. There’s no good way to predict this.
And while no vaccine is 100% effective, flu vaccines give kids and their families a little insurance that influenza won’t make everyone sick at home. Kids won’t spend their winter and spring breaks sick, parents won’t spend all their vacation time nursing sick kids or being sick themselves.
The flu vaccine is indicated for all pediatric patients 6 months of age and older.
More on influenza from the CDC