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Protect Yourself from the Flu


What can we do to protect ourselves from the flu?
Frequent hand washing, covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and keeping your distance from people who are sick are all things you can do to avoid getting the flu. The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu is by getting your annual flu vaccine. The vaccine not only decreases your chances of getting the flu but also lessens the severity of the flu if you do happen to get it. For children who aren’t able to get the flu vaccine, their best protection comes from their family members and caregivers being vaccinated.

Who can get a flu vaccine?
It is recommended that all children age six months and older get a yearly flu vaccine. Children eight years and younger who are getting their flu shot for the first time will actually need two doses of the flu vaccine given at least four weeks apart. This is so they can build up a better immunity to the flu. Ideally, you want to get the vaccine at the beginning of flu season (i.e. October) so that you have protection for the longest amount of time during the winter respiratory season, but getting a flu shot anytime during flu season is not too late. It takes about two weeks to develop immunity to the flu after you get the shot, so the sooner you get it, the better.

Can we get the nasal mist instead of the shot?
Children who are two years and older may be able to get the nasal flu vaccine instead of the shot. Kids with certain medical conditions such as asthma or other chronic heart or lung disease, some neurologic conditions, diabetes, or a weakened immune system should not get the nasal vaccine. Always discuss this with your pediatrician before choosing the nasal mist. As with the shot, if it is a child’s first time getting a flu vaccine and they are eight years old or younger, they will need to get two doses of the nasal mist.

If my child does get the flu, should they take Tamiflu?
If your child is unfortunate enough to get the flu, they may benefit from Tamiflu. Children who are at high risk of complications from the flu (less than two years old or have chronic medical conditions) or those who have a sibling who is not able to be vaccinated should be considered for Tamiflu. Kids who are otherwise healthy and have had symptoms for less than 48 hours may also benefit from Tamiflu. As with any medication, there are some side effects of Tamiflu, most commonly nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. However, each child is different so the decision to start Tamiflu should be made on a case by case basis, and the risks and benefits should always be discussed with your pediatrician.

Where can I get a flu shot?
If you haven’t already gotten a flu shot this year, it’s not too late. Flu shots are being given at:

The Baton Rouge Clinic’s Week-Day Flu Clinic - Located at the Immunization Clinic (7473 Perkins Road; It is the white brick building between the Main Clinic and The Baton Rouge Clinic Urgent Care/Albertsons). Flu Shots will be given Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Patients can park and enter the building. No appointment necessary.

The Baton Rouge Clinic’s Pediatrics at Industriplex Location - Flu shots are available by appointment only. Flu Shots will be given at the Industriplex location Tuesday-Thursday, from 1-4:30 p.m. Please call (225) 246-9290 to schedule your appointment. (Anyone who attends a flu visit with a child receiving a flu shot, may get their flu shot at the same time, but will need to make an appointment.)

Camille C. Willis, MD

 

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