Put the flu shot on your back-to-school checklist | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Put the flu shot on your back-to-school checklist

Backpacks might be stocked with supplies, and new shoes may be ready to hit the school yard. However, there's an important back-to-school item that many students miss: their flu shot.

Getting a flu shot as soon as the vaccine is available should be on every parent's checklist, along with other back-to-school routines.

The Lake Tahoe community was hit hard by the flu this season. You and your child's best defense against influenza is getting a flu shot. Not only does this prevent the flu, it shortens how long you suffer from symptoms if you do get sick.

This year's flu vaccine is now available at most local pharmacies.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reminds parents annual flu vaccines are appropriate for everyone aged 6 months or older. Everyone in the household, including pregnant women, parents, grandparents, and child care providers should be vaccinated to help prevent its spread.

For maximum protection, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control recommend the following:

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Kids should get the flu vaccine by the end of October. Children from 6 months to age of 8 will need two doses if they have not previously been fully vaccinated.

Opt for injectable vaccines, as the nasal flu vaccine has shown weakness against certain flu viruses in recent years.

Take special care to vaccinate kids at high risk of complications from flu, such as those with asthma, heart conditions, diabetes and weakened immune systems.

Women who are pregnant, hoping to conceive or recently pregnant should also get the flu vaccine, as should healthcare and childcare workers.

Influenza is characterized by the abrupt onset of fever, muscle aches, sore throat and a nonproductive cough. Unlike the common cold, flu symptoms like fever and headache come on quickly. Each individual may experience symptoms differently.

Protect yourself using common sense measures — wash your hands frequently.

If you suspect you or your child have influenza, STAY HOME.

Get a diagnosis to confirm if you do have the flu by seeing your care provider immediately, or contact Barton Urgent Care at 775-589-8900.

Healthy Tahoe is a look at health-related topics that shape our community and is made possible through content provided by our sponsors.

About the Author

Vicki McKenna is the Infection Preventionist at Barton Health.