Should You or Should You Not Get the Vaccine?
It is no secret that this year is a banner year for medical learning. A new respiratory illness has swept the world leaving medical providers and clinical researchers searching for answers. With COVID-19 cases and precautions increased, preventing the flu will prevent flu cases and COVID cases from co-mingling in the Emergency Room.
Won’t Social Distancing Be Enough?
The key for social distancing measures to lower the spread of respiratory illnesses like the seasonal influenza is how strict the restrictions are kept. If a family wears masks when outside the family home for every outing, even if 6 feet of distance can be maintained outside the family members, this will truly lower the spread of respiratory illness. The key being wearing a mask around anyone except an immediate family member. For most families, this isn’t possible. If there are caregivers in the home, that is an extra person and you have to include the people that they do not wear masks around, like their family, as possible sources. Short answer: no social distancing won’t be enough.
Benefits of the Flu Vaccine
Per the CDC, the flu vaccine prevents illness with the flu, can reduce the risk of flu-associated complications like hospitalization, and protects those with chronic health conditions. While it is well-known that the flu shot does not always prevent getting influenza, a 2017 and 2018 study demonstrated that of those hospitalized with the flu, those who have the flu vaccine had a reduced severity of illness. Similar to social distancing measures, getting the flu vaccine protects the vulnerable populations who may have severe illnesses like babies, young children, the elderly and those with chronic health conditions like cancer, heart disease or underlying respiratory conditions.
When Not To Get the Flu Shot
- If you had a previous allergic reaction to the shot – talk to your provider about this if you have a concern
- If your medical provider has advised against getting the flu vaccine due to personal medical concerns
- Under 6 months old – The flu shot is not approved for babies under 6 months
There are egg-free flu vaccines available for those who cannot have the traditional flu vaccine. Call your clinic or pharmacy to find out if they carry the egg-free flu vaccine. Per the CDC, people with egg allergies can receive any age-appropriate flu vaccination and recommends that those with severe egg allergies be vaccinated in a supervised medical setting who can manage severe allergic reactions.
Where to Go for the Flu Shot
All Tricare beneficiaries are eligible for a free flu vaccination at their local Military Treatment Facility (MTF) where available. Historically, MTFs and military clinics get the seasonal flu vaccine later in the season, around October or November. MTFs prioritize care to active duty service members and may not have enough flu vaccines to provide family members with the vaccine. Pharmacies typically offer the flu vaccination earlier, starting in August and September. Most pharmacies participate with Tricare insurance, except CVS currently, and participating pharmacies will provide the vaccine for free. The age of the dependent depends on the pharmacy so always call prior to going to see what age of children they will vaccinate. A Tricare-authorized provider can also provide the vaccine. Co-pays may be required, depending on your Tricare plan (Prime, Select, Remote, Retired, etc.).
Should I Give my Child acetaminophen or ibuprofen prior to Vaccination?
In an effort to alleviate pain from a vaccination, parents often provide the age-appropriate pain reliever of acetaminophen or ibuprofen prior to their vaccination. This has proven to decrease the vaccine reactogenicity, meaning that the vaccine doesn’t work as well if these medications are given prior to vaccination. Unless your child’s healthcare provider has advised to do so, it is not recommended to give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen prior to vaccination.
Given the many unknowns about the current pandemic, any effort to limit respiratory illness will allow for the medical resources to treat the sickest. If you are physically able to get a flu shot, consider it.
*This article is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult your physician or child’s pediatrician for you and/or your child’s individual healthcare needs. This article is not intended as medical advice to treat yourself or others.
Heather Walsh is a mom, Marine wife, Navy child, blogger, and lover of all things crafty and Disney. Professionally, she is a Physician Assistant and writer and has a passion for helping others to stay positive and supported. She has been writing since KidPix was on a floppy disk! She is one of three women who founded MilMomAdventures, sharing travel and lifestyle tips for the military family at www.milmomadventures.com . When she isn’t crafting with her kiddos, going on the next adventure, or writing for MilMomAdventures, she has contributed to NextGen MilSpouse, Daily Mom Military and Military Disney Tips while reheating her first cup of coffee for the tenth time.