I got the flu once in college. It was miserable. I’ve never been so sick. I was out of classes for a week with a fever and cough. I couldn’t breathe through my nose and I had constant body aches. Awful. Ever since then I’ve gotten the flu shot and I’ve never gotten the flu again.
This year, I feel like the flu shot is even more important for me. Why? Because my baby is too young to get one. The flu is very dangerous for infants and I want to minimize her risk of exposure so everyone else in the family will get flu shots.
The CDC defines the flu as:
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:
• Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches
• Fatigue (very tired)
• Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
It’s a nasty bug all around and it’s particularly nasty to the elderly, people with respiratory issues such as asthma, pregnant women and children under two years old.Thes groups are at risk for developing complications from the flu including “bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.” (CDC)
Steps you can take to minimize risk of a baby contracting the flu are keeping her away from sick people, practicing good hand washing habits, and having family members get the flu shot.
The shot is safe for breastfeeding mothers and poses no risk to breast milk production or the baby, according to Kellymom.com and the CDC:
Influenza vaccine does not affect the safety of mothers who are breastfeeding or their infants. Breastfeeding does not adversely affect the immune response and is not a contraindication for vaccination.
There’s always the argument that the flu shot may not work and that can happen. But it does reduce your risk of getting the flu and your risk of passing it in to your baby. Many insurance plans cover the vaccine and some communities offer free or reduced cost vaccines. And? It only hurts for a second.
For more information on vaccines and breastfeeding, visit the CDC website.
Will you be getting the flu shot? Why or why not?
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