Sponsored by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
I used to be one of the people that never got their flu vaccine. Guilty. I never thought I needed it because I was a healthy, young woman who always washed her hands. That all changed when I had Otto and learned the importance of getting the flu vaccine.
When Otto was born, we were ready with the knowledge of his congenital heart defect. We knew there would be surgeries and challenges ahead but one thing we were not prepared with was protecting him from viruses and other seasonal illnesses. Otto is part of the vulnerable population and sadly, it took his condition to make me realize that the flu shot was not only about protecting me, it is about protecting the vulnerable. I would likely survive contracting the flu but someone like Otto or my grandma could have some serious side effects from influenza.
The flu season can be a dangerous time of year. During the 2019-2020 flu season there were six pediatric flu-related deaths in Michigan. During the 2018-2019 flu season there were 952 hospitalizations (147 of them pediatric). A simple flu shot can reduce the risk of having to visit the doctor due to the flu by 40 to 60 percent. It’s important now more than ever to not overwhelm our healthcare workers and stay out of the hospital during the spike in COVID-19 cases. Flu vaccinations also reduce a child’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission by 74 percent during the flu seasons from 2010-2012. We spent a lot of time in the PICU after Otto’s surgery and while the care team was incredible, we prefer not to have to visit it again any time soon.
It’s best to get your flu shot as early as possible. I always thought I was supposed to wait until mid-fall but your body can take up to two weeks to develop immunity to the seasonal flu. Joe received his at work, Otto and I received ours at our September check up. When Otto got his in September, he really went for the sympathy card. We went to the toy store because he was so brave and rather than picking out the small car that was in his hand, he went for the large car hauler because it was a “special day”. I can’t blame him; he knew what he was doing.
There are a lot of misconceptions regarding vaccines out there especially when it comes to our children. It’s ok to have questions. Doing the research makes you a good parent. Make sure you are getting your answers from credible sources. Talk to your child’s doctor or care team and explore resources available to you like IVaccinate.org.
For more information regarding the flu vaccine please visit The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services website.