By Patsy Stinchfield, MS, CPNP
Patsy is a pediatric nurse practitioner and the director of infection prevention and The Children’s Immunization Project at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.
Last year, we learned that influenza is a complex, tricky virus that is nearly impossible to predict. It ended up being the widest season on record (earliest start and latest end).
We know that of the 174 kids who died from influenza last year, 90 percent of them had not been vaccinated. We know that pregnant women are more prone to influenza complications and are a high priority for getting vaccinated, but only half of pregnant women are actually protected.
The flu vaccination isn’t perfect, but it’s still our best defense against what can be a very serious infection at any age. It reduces your chance of getting sick. But, if you do become sick, it helps reduce the severity.
If not for yourself, vaccinate on behalf of babies who are too young to receive the vaccine (under 6 months of age), women and those with immunity problems or who are undergoing cancer treatment. When you get vaccinated, you protect yourselves and others.
My colleague recently told me that when her mom was undergoing cancer treatment, she got influenza and died from the infection. My colleague and her entire family were vaccinated that year before flu season and will never miss a chance to protect themselves against the disease that took their loved one.