Why get a flu shot?

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


About Lisa M. Asta, MD

Lisa M. Asta, M.D. is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, for which she is also a Media Representative (she has been interviewed for “Kids Health” on Health Radio, and quoted in Parenting Magazine, USA Today, and the New York Times, among other publications). She is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco and past pediatric chair at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. She graduated from Temple University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Asta is also a writer whose fiction has appeared in Inkwell, Philadelphia Stories, Schuylkill, and Zeniada. Her essays have appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hippocrates, the San Jose Mercury News, and The New Physician Magazine. She is an occasional contributor to KQED public radio’s Perspectives series, and has written articles for Bay Area Parent, Valley Parent, Parents’ Press, and Parents Express, as well as online at WebMD.com, Rx.com, and MyLifePath.com. She wrote a chapter in The Field Guide to the Normal Newborn, ed. Gary Emmet, M.D. BabyCenter.com currently has two how-to videos for parents in production which feature Dr. Asta. For more on Dr. Asta’s writing, visit www.LMAsta.com
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3 Responses to Why get a flu shot?

  1. Pingback: Flu Vaccines | Casa Verde Pediatrics, Inc. Blog

  2. Pingback: Flu Vaccines 2018-2019 | Casa Verde Pediatrics, Inc. Blog

  3. Pingback: Flu vaccines 2019-2020 Season | Casa Verde Pediatrics, Inc. Blog

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