Flu season is approaching, make sure you are protected

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CHEYENNE, Wyo - There is at least one diagnosis of the influenza in kids and several in adults so far. The best way to keep yourself and your children safe during the flu season would be getting vaccinated.

Last year was a tough winter with influenza. As of mid-August 2018, a total of 179 children nationwide died of influenza-associated deaths, and thousands more were hospitalized. About 80 percent of the children who died had not received a flu vaccination, according to the CDC.

Unfortunately, a person can get the virus and start spreading it a couple days before they even begin to have symptoms. Children often have the highest attack rates of influenza in the community and they play a pivotal role in the transmission of influenza infection to households and other close contacts.

There are two options this year for the flu vaccine. The AAP recommends the injectable flu vaccine as the primary choice for children because it has provided the most consistent protection against all strains of the flu virus in recent years. The vaccine is given by injection into the muscle and is an inactivated vaccine, meaning it does not contain a live flu virus, cannot cause the flu and cannot give you the flu.

It may also be possible to get the live, intranasal form of influenza vaccine this year, which was endorsed by the CDC this year. The nasal spray vaccine may be used this year for children who would not otherwise receive the flu shot, as long as they are 2 years of age or older and healthy without an underlying medical condition such as asthma.

Anyone older than 6 months. The number of doses of influenza vaccine depends on a child's age and vaccine history. Children 6 months through 8 years of age need two doses when it is the first time they are being vaccinated against influenza. Children 9 years of age and older require only one dose, regardless of prior vaccination history.

It is important to recognize that certain things make someone higher risk if they catch influenza. Children younger than 2 years are at increased risk of hospitalization and complications attributed to influenza. Children with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes mellitus, sickle cell disease, kidney or liver disorders as well as immunosuppressed states are at a much higher risk of complications from the influenza virus.

Each year the CDC updates the vaccines with strains from influenza A as well as influenza B. Compared with last season's vaccines, the 2018-2019 vaccines contain one new strain of influenza A (H3N2) and one new strain of influenza B (Victoria lineage).

Influenza comes on pretty quickly – you wake up in the morning and have a lot of symptoms all at once: high fever (above 101-102F) and chills, headache, muscle aches and pains, tiredness along with your typical cold symptoms of runny nose, sore throat and cough. It can last up to 10 days!

You should seek medical care the same day you feel these symptoms, because most clinics can test for influenza with a rapid swab. If you test positive, it may be worthwhile to start treatment with an antiviral treatment called Tamiflu. Antiviral medications are important in the treatment and control of influenza, but they are not a substitute for vaccination. Best results with antiviral medications are seen when treatment is initiated within 48 hours of symptom onset.

If you or your child is diagnosed with influenza it is important to stay home, rest and drink plenty of fluids with the illness. Making sure you are washing your hands very often and encourage your children to cover their mouth or cough into their elbow to help prevent the spread of disease.

•Children with egg allergy of any severity can receive influenza vaccine with no additional precautions than those considered for any vaccine.

•Pregnant women may receive injected influenza vaccine at any time during pregnancy. Postpartum women who did not receive vaccination during pregnancy should receive a vaccine prior to discharge from the hospital. Influenza vaccination during breast-feeding is safe for mothers and their infants.

•All health care personnel should receive an annual seasonal influenza vaccine, a crucial step in preventing influenza.

For more information on the flu shot check out the interview from the morning show.