Parents have sent their children off for another school year, and getting all of the recommended vaccines to protect their child’s health is as important as any other preparation. Children are now in a setting like a school or a child care center where disease outbreaks can occur. Whether it’s a baby starting at a new child care facility, a toddler heading to preschool, a student going back to elementary, middle or high school – or even a college freshman – parents should check their child’s vaccine records.
Also on board this Fall are flu shot vaccines. Child care facilities, preschool programs, schools and colleges are highly susceptible to outbreaks of infectious diseases and outbreaks of influenza. Children can easily transmit illnesses to one another due to poor hand washing, uncovered coughs, dense populations and other factors. When children aren’t vaccinated, they are at increased risk for illness and disease and can spread these to others in their classrooms and communities. This includes babies too young to be fully vaccinated, people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions, and our elderly population.
Cathy Donovan, Family Practice Physician at Mille Lacs Health System, responds to skeptics who may have gotten the flu vaccine but still got sick last year. “You could have possibly been a lot more sick,” she says. “The best tool we have right now for protection is the flu shot. Is it perfect? No, but it’s safe, and it definitely will not ‘give you the flu.’ Everyone needs the vaccine because the more people in a community that are immunized the more effective the vaccine is. If you don’t want to get one for yourself, then get one for your grandparents, your grandchildren or your friends and family who have health problems.”
MLHS is giving the quadrivalent vaccine this year. The quadrivalent flu vaccine is designed to protect against four different flu viruses; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. Adding another B virus to the vaccine aims to give broader protection against circulating flu viruses.
Protect everyone in your family and community by getting your flu shot and being current on your child’s recommended immunizations. Visit our website at mlhealth.org to see when the flu shot will be given at your MLHS neighborhood clinic. Appointments are appreciated, but walk-ins are accepted.