Protecting against the flu

The flu has taken a toll on the contiguous United States.

This year’s flu has been described as a particularly bad strain that has already claimed the lives of about 53 children nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Collectively, our hearts break for these families who have lost loved one.

No parent likes to see their child battling an illness. This flu season, parents might find it downright terrifying, but there are steps parents can take to protect their families. The most effective is the flu vaccine.

Last year, a study published in Pediatrics was the first of its kind to show that flu vaccine also significantly reduced a child’s risk of dying from influenza, the CDC reported.

The vaccine doesn’t just protect your family, it helps stave off the flu generally. The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from the flu – including older people, young children, pregnant women and people with long-term health conditions, the CDC reports.

Fever and aches – tell-tale signs of the flu – are miserable, but most people won’t die from the flu.

Typically, the flu spells trouble for specific demographics like the elderly, young children or anyone who may have a compromised immune system. Children – especially infants, and those under the age 5 – are susceptible because they have more opportunities to be exposed to and to spread the flu. They play closely with other children in day care centers and at school.

Children also lack “immunologic experience” – their systems are still developing, health officials point out.

There are other steps parents can take to ward off the flu, such as washing hands regularly, practicing proper cough etiquette and disinfecting surfaces. The flu vaccine, however, is the best way to protect against the illness.

Some may be concerned about myths circulating about the vaccine. One of the most prevalent is that it can cause the flu. The CDC, however, has debunked this. Viruses in flu shots are killed off during production.

Many this year are also saying the vaccine is ineffective. It’s true that sometimes the vaccine does not work, but it offers some protection, health experts say.

Something is better than nothing – it could save someone’s life.