For two of the past four flu seasons I’ve been pregnant. There are many things that you need to do when you are pregnant, such as going to doctor appointments, taking prenatal vitamins, and having tests done. One thing that pregnant women — and even non pregnant women — overlook is having a flu shot.
In my former life before kids, I did PR for a healthcare corporation. While working there I realized the importance of the flu vaccine. In the past, getting a flu shot hadn’t been a priority. The flu (to me) seemed like an inconvenience that had to be dealt with each year. It wasn’t until I realized that the flu can actually be dangerous that I began to take it more seriously.
Getting a Flu Vaccine Can Save Your Life
This year’s flu season is already shaping up to be a bad one. H3N2 is this year’s predominant flu strain and it’s particularly nasty. In the past, when H3N2 has widely circulated there tends to be more hospitalizations, and unfortunately, more deaths.
So, back to me being pregnant during flu season. Pregnant women, as well as children younger than two, adults over 65, and people with chronic conditions are at high risk for serious complications from the flu. Even in the year’s I wasn’t pregnant (such as this year) we had children under 2 in the house, so I insisted that everyone be vaccinated.
The seasonal flu typically peaks between December and February, but can last as late as May. Even though we are already in the middle of the flu season, it isn’t too late to get your flu shot. As long as flu viruses are circulating, the CDC recommends getting getting a vaccine.
You may have heard that this year’s flu vaccine is a poor match for the H3N2 strain. This is true, but it doesn’t mean that you should skip getting the vaccine. In fact, but getting the vaccination it may still protect you from some flu strains that circulate later in the season. Even partial protection can prevent flu-related complications.
Despite all of us having been vaccinated (even Baby R since he is older than six months) there still is the chance of contracting the flu. If you begin to experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, tiredness, cough, diarrhea, and vomiting, you need to contact your doctor right away. There’s no need to suffer through the full brunt of the flu, when you can take an antiviral drug.
Antiviral Drugs: What To Do If You Get the Flu
Antiviral drugs can make the flu milder and shorter. This treatment can lesson serious flu complications that can lead to hospitalizations or death. These antiviral medications are especially important in years, such as this year, when the circulating flu viruses are different than the viruses contained in the vaccine.
If you do think that you have the flu, it is important to begin antiviral medications within 48 hours of getting sick. Even if it’s already been 48 hours, still talk to your doctor as antiviral drugs can still be beneficial when given later. These drugs are effective across all age and risk groups, but it especially important to start taking the drugs right away if you are in a high risk group.
The flu isn’t something to mess around with. You want to make sure that not only are you protect from the flu, but so is the rest of your family. Remember to take these three actions to keep your family healthy this year:
- Take time to get a flu vaccine every year
- Take everyday preventative actions to stop the spread of germs
- Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.
For more information about protecting yourself and your family from the flu, visit the CDC’s website. The website has lots of practical information about developing healthy habits, preventing the flu, getting vaccinated, and even using antiviral medications.
What are you doing to protect your family from the flu this year?