It’s the season for rolling up shirt sleeves and getting that annual prick in the arm for a flu shot, though a study from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan finds some parents, less than 30%, are hesitating from getting their children vaccinated. In context, 96% of parents who make sure their child gets a flu shot every year plan to this year as well, so it’s more a reflection of a typical pattern than anything out of the ordinary. Among those parents refraining, a concern for side effects and doubting the efficacy are the two most common reasons given.
“The main side effect from a flu shot is a sore arm for a day or two. It prevents persons who receive it from having to be hospitalized and even dying,” says Baylor College of Medicine professor Dr. Robert Atmar. And as to how effective a flu shot may be, Dr. Atmar says that a shot doesn’t guarantee a person won’t get the flu. “The flu vaccine in its best year is only about 50-60% effective, but you look across the country at the number of hospitalizations that are prevented and the number of deaths that are prevented.”
The benefit far outweighs any risk, he says, and should you contract the flu virus, a vaccine can lessen the severity of illness.
There is a report from Minneapolis of a shortage of the type of flu shot being offered this year for people 65+, but Atmar says he hasn’t heard any reports of shortages in the Houston area for any of the types of vaccines, including the FluMist and the trivalent shot for people over the age of 65.
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