5 Flu Questions Answered

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Flu Season Is Here

October 1 marked the official start of flu season, but cases of the flu were reported even before this date, hinting at an earlier than normal flu season. With this in mind, it’s important to get your children — and yourself — a flu shot to ensure your home is flu-free.

1. Who needs the flu shot?

Getting the flu shot is important for all age groups and helps prevent the spread of the flu to people who are more at risk or unable to get the flu shot for medical reasons. Children and the elderly are more susceptible to the flu and complications related to the flu. For children, spending most of their week in school with other children leads to a lot of germs and increases their risk of flu. The elderly, on the other hand, are more likely to have complications resulting from the flu, such as pneumonia.

2. When should you get the flu shot?

There is no one answer to when you and your family should get the flu shot, but the sooner the better is a good mantra in this case. Since the flu shot takes two weeks to become effective, it’s important to get it now rather than when you hear that it is spreading around your child’s school or your community.

3. Pharmacy walk-in vs. making an appointment: what’s the better option for your child?

While a lot of pharmacies offer flu shots on a walk-in basis, many won’t distribute them to children under eight years old because they do not carry the dosage needed for young children. Making an appointment with your pediatrician ensures your child gets the correct dosage, and they can have any necessary check ups while they are there.. The shot is injected either in their arm or leg, depending on their age. Your child’s pediatrician will know the proper place to inject the shot.

Some doctors’ offices also provide walk-in appointments and flexible hours for flu shot distribution. Click here for a full list.

4. What qualifies someone for tamiflu flu treatment?

While the flu cannot be cured, Tamiflu is a drug that helps with shortening the duration of the flu and minimizing the symptoms. High risk patients, such as children less than two and people with underlying illnesses such as asthma, chronic lung disease and heart problems, are usually the only people that qualify for Tamiflu. Since Tamiflu shortens symptom duration, but can have some negative side effects, healthy children with a normal flu symptoms should not get it.

5. Does the flu vaccine cause the flu?

The flu shot is made from an inactivated or dead flu virus and therefore can NOT cause the flu after getting it. However, after getting a flu shot you can have some side effects such as fever and body aches that some people will feel are “flu like.” This is the body’s normal response to the flu shot and will go away within 48 hours. The injection also takes two weeks to become effective and you are at risk of getting the flu during that time, but the flu shot does not cause the flu.

Know the difference between a cold and the flu. Click here to read our Cold vs. Flu blog.

Protect your family from the flu, and get your flu shots soon. For a list of clinics offering walk-in appointments, visit ololrmc.com/flu.

About Dr. Margaret Patterson

Patterson, Margaret E. Margaret E. Patterson, MD earned her degree in medicine from LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. She did both her internship and residency training at Pennsylvania State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Dr. Patterson is a Board Certified pediatrician at Pediatric Medical Center. Click here to make an appointment with Dr. Patterson, or call (225) 769-2003.
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