Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health.
Flu is Widespread in Louisiana But it’s Not too Late to Vaccinate Children
If you have school-age children then you probably know we’re having an unusually active flu season in Louisiana.
Flu cases started rising in the Baton Rouge area in late September, much earlier than usual. By the third week of November, Louisiana doctors had seen nearly 20,000 children for flu-like symptoms, the state Department of Hospitals reported.
The vast majority of those cases were Influenza B, a sometimes less-severe strain, but one that’s more likely to spread among children.
A hallmark of most cases of flu is they strike swiftly with fever, extreme fatigue, coughing, sore throat, body aches and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting.
The best way to protect children from the flu is a flu shot. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children ages six months and older be vaccinated, except for certain rare exceptions. Children who are especially vulnerable to flu complications include kids with chronic conditions such as asthma, neurological or neurodevelopment conditions, heart disease, sickle cell disease, diabetes, disorders of the liver or kidney, weakened immune system, or who are obese.
Talk to your child’s pediatrician to be sure your child can have a flu shot.
It takes a few weeks for flu shots to reach its full effectiveness, so it’s important to vaccinate children as soon as possible. Flu season is expected to continue through March.
Flu vaccines aren’t 100 % effective, but they can minimize flu symptoms or shorten its duration for some patients. Out of hundreds of children who tested positive for the flu at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health Pediatrics at Perkins Clinic, all but four had not received a flu shot before getting sick.
Even if a child gets the flu, the child should still have a flu shot because one of the other strains of flu could still hit them later in the flu season.
Children younger than 5 years old — especially those younger than 2 — are at greater risk for flu complications. Children younger than 6 months old are too young to be vaccinated so it’s important to keep them away from others who may have the flu. Expectant mothers should get a flu shot during pregnancy, which has been shown to provide some protection for newborns, and all family members of infants should have a flu shot.
Click here to connect with an Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health pediatrician near you.
To learn more about how to protect your family from the flu, check out the CDC’s website.
Dr. Michelle Flechas is a pediatrician with Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health. Her practice is at Pediatrics at Perkins.