Health Notes

An Open Letter to My Young Patients: Yes, You Need a Shot

by Dr. Elizabeth Walenz on October 11, 2016

Dear patients,

I am sorry.

I know at your kindergarten check-up we talked about the next time you would need a shot would be going into 7th grade.

But, the flu mist is gone. It didn’t work.

You are going to have to get a shot. The flu shot.

I know you don’t like needles and getting a shot makes you worry. You worry it will hurt or that you won’t be able to walk the same after it’s done. In fact, the worst part about getting a shot is the worry and anticipation about the shot. The shot itself isn’t that bad.

I want you to get the flu shot because I care about you and I don’t want you to get sick.

Influenza is terrible. You get a bad cough that hurts your chest and throat when you cough. It can make it tough to breathe. It lasts a long time – five to seven days. That is five to seven days of missing school, your friends, your basketball game or your Girl Scouts meeting. Influenza takes away your appetite and makes you want to sleep a lot. You will lose weight that you don’t need to lose. Your muscles will hurt like you had to run too far.

Dr. Elizabeth Walenz
Elizabeth Walenz, MD

I’ve also taken care of patients who had to be in the hospital because of influenza. They needed IV fluids or IV antibiotics, or oxygen up their nose to help support their breathing because of secondary pneumonia.

When you get the flu shot, your body builds up immunity so if your body sees influenza, your body can say, “Not today, influenza. This guy is going to stay healthy.” This also helps to protect those around you, such as little babies too young for the flu shot or grandmothers or grandfathers who can’t get the flu shot because of medications they may be on.

I want you to stay healthy. I want you to stay in school. I know you can be brave. This is why I want you to have your flu shot. I get one every year and my kids do, too.

Flu shot facts:

  • The flu shot is recommended for kids from 6 months to 18 years of age.
  • The first time a child receives the flu shot under the age of 8 years, they need two booster doses of the flu shot timed one month apart to help to boost the child’s immune system. The child will need one flu shot yearly thereafter.
  • If your child has an egg allergy, it’s still ok to get a flu shot. The child should be watched in the office after shot administration for 15 minutes for an allergic reaction.
  • It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the flu shot to be fully effective.

Flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. People are contagious one day before their symptoms start and for five to seven days after their symptoms begin. That means you can infect others before you even know you are sick!

Flu season extends from October through May. Last year, the flu season was primarily in the spring. Peak influenza incidence is often December through March.

If you have questions about scheduling your child’s flu shot, call your Methodist Physicians Clinic pediatrician or family practitioner today.

Dr. Elizabeth Walenz is a pediatrician now seeing patients at
Methodist Physicians Clinic Regency.
Contact Dr. Walenz at MethodistPR@nmhs.org.
Dr. Elizabeth Walenz

 

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