Every year the flu vaccine seems to be a lightning rod for controversy. There are always some parents who are uncertain it’s necessary. I hear parents say their kids have never had the flu, so they don’t see the need. Or that it’s only really necessary for seniors. Or that the flu shot will make them sick.
But what is certain is that children are among the most susceptible to be hospitalized with the flu. Rates of infection are highest among kids five to nine, but even scarier, rates of serious illness and death are highest in yes, seniors, but also children under two.
My children are in high school now, but we started getting the flu shot the first year it was available, which was when they were in elementary school. I hadn’t thought that much about it but my father, a retired physician, “strongly suggested” it. Occasionally he exercises his clout. Since then, it’s part of our routine. We’ve never had the flu since then (cue me looking for something wooden to knock on), nor have we ever gotten sick from the vaccine.
If you or your kids have never had the flu and you are a flu shot avoider, congratulations. You’re obviously good hand washers. Or you’ve probably benefited from what’s called herd immunity – in other words, you’re relying on the largesse of the population who has been immunized. Or more likely, you have simply not come in contact with the flu virus.
The flu shot does not make you sick because it does not contain enough of the virus to make you sick. If you get sick after you’ve had the flu shot it’s because you’ve come in contact with another virus that causes flu-like symptoms. During flu season there are plenty of nasty cold viruses going around. And if you do actually get knocked backwards by the flu after you’ve had the vaccine, chances are you would have been MUCH sicker if you hadn’t had the shot.
So two weeks ago I took my daughters to their annual physical and they had their shots. I had mine, too. My husband is next. Don’t delay: your body needs two weeks to develop protection, and the virus usually appears in early December. It’s free at your doctor’s office or local pharmacy, but no price is too high for peace of mind.
To find a place near you where you can get a flu shot, visit fightflu.ca.
Hear why ParentsCanada columnist Kathy Buckworth, ET Canada’s Rick Campanelli and The Social’s Traci Melchor get the flu shot.