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7 reasons kids should get a flu shot this year

Health

7 reasons kids should get a flu shot this year

Flu seasons vary in their severity, but every year children are at risk.
This year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s especially important for kids to get a flu shot.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots for children ages 6 months and older. Here are seven reasons why it’s critical for children to get the shot this year:

The flu is serious

Every year, millions of children get sick with seasonal flu, thousands of children are hospitalized and 150-200 children die from the illness. Children, especially those younger than 5 years old, commonly need medical care because of flu.
“Although flu comes around every year, it’s not something to take lightly,” says Dr. Pia Shivdasani, who practices at Tidelands Health Pediatrics on Holmestown Road in Myrtle Beach. “The illness can become quite serious.”

Getting a flu shot is easy and convenient

Schedule a flu shot for yourself or your child today by calling 1-866-TIDELANDS or stop by a drive-through flu shot event on Saturday, Dec. 12, in Georgetown. Click here for more information. 

Young children under the age of 5 are among the most at risk for complications from flu because of inadequate lung development, the lack of a robust immune system and an increased risk of dehydration. Flu can cause a high fever and be accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration.
In addition, children tend to develop secondary infections such as pneumonia and ear infections, Dr. Shivdasani says.

The shot limits the spread of the flu

Because children often play closely with neighbors or classmates and share toys, they can easily spread viruses among themselves. Plus, because they tend to be less mindful of hand hygiene and other preventive measures, such as covering their mouths and noses when they sneeze or cough, they are adept at spreading the illness to others.

The flu shot protects children and others

A flu shot helps protects children from the flu and, in turn, can help protect high-risk relatives or friends they interact with. Children can be asymptomatic during the first few days of a flu infection and unknowingly spread it to others, Dr. Shivdasani says.

People can be sick with flu and COVID-19 at the same time

It is possible to become ill with both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time, which could lead to serious complications.
Both COVID-19 and flu affect the upper respiratory system, but COVID-19 can also attack the body’s blood vessels and interfere with the body’s ability to transport oxygen to vital organs.
With either illness, sufferers can face potential lung infections that can lead to sepsis, a life-threatening blood infection that can cause organs to shut down and result in death.

Flu shots can reduce symptom severity

The flu shot is the best way to prevent your child from becoming ill with the flu. Even if your child does become sick, the flu shot can reduce the severity of your child’s symptoms, Dr. Shivdasani says.

Getting a flu shot could help prevent a ‘twindemic’ surge

Health experts are concerned about the possibility hospitals may become overwhelmed with a “twindemic” of flu and COVID-19 cases this flu season. By making sure your child gets a flu shot, you can help reduce the number of flu cases that require hospitalization.

Nasal spray an option

In addition to a flu shot, people ages 2 to 49 have the option to receive a nasal spray to protect themselves from the flu. For some people, especially children, this is a great alternative.
Although a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from the flu, it’s also important to take other precautions such as washing your hands often, wearing a mask in public and keeping a distance of six feet between you and others, Dr. Shivdasani says. The precautions can help protect you from both flu and COVID-19.
“I think COVID may help people realize just how important flu shots are this year,” she says. “The pandemic has demonstrated just how serious a virus can be.”

Dr. Pia Shivdasani is a board-certified pediatrician who practices at Tidelands Health Pediatrics in Myrtle Beach.

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