My Daughter Got a Flu Shot And Still Got the Flu
Last week I received a call referring to what I jokingly called the “Holiday Illness Trifecta”. School administrators initiated the county-wide call to alert parents to three illnesses that were plaguing the community; pertussis, flu and strep.
Between the Facebook updates I had been reading from friends, and the reports my kids were giving me about the low attendance at school, I can’t say that I was very surprised. Concerned yes. But surprised? No. And unfortunately, even though everyone in my family received a flu shot and are up to date on their Tdap boosters, I realize that immunizations are not 100% effective. In other words, as long as there is illness circulating in our communities, than it there is still a chance that we may get sick.
The ripples of illness even impacted our holiday party this past weekend. My husband and I had invited 60 people to our home for a neighborhood celebration. However, in the days just prior to the event, about half of our guests had called, texted or emailed with their last-minute regrets. The recurring explanation was that someone – or everyone – in their house was sick. While I was grateful that they decided to stay home, I knew it was likely that some of those in attendance might be sharing more than holiday cheer.
Then, it finally hit home.
The day after our party, my oldest daughter began feeling ill. Nothing too terribly bad. Mostly a sore throat, some minor congestion and fatigue. I figured it was probably because she was up late and needed rest. Over the course of the next few days, her condition went from worse, to better, to not so good again, with a low-grade fever that seemed to come and go. Finally, concerned that her sore throat was not going away, I took her to the doctor to ensure she didn’t have strep before heading off to visit family this weekend.
That is when we got the surprising diagnosis of flu.
I never would have guessed that she had the flu. Her symptoms just didn’t present the way in which I would have expected them to. While some may question why I would bother getting her the flu vaccine, when she ultimately ended up with the flu, we were relieved to see that her case is mild, especially in comparison to the many people we know who are suffering from the flu in our area. In fact, one of the first things she said after receiving the diagnosis was,
“Good thing I got vaccinated. I can’t imagine how I might be feeling if I hadn’t.”
It’s true that flu season started early this year, and there have already been reports of several deaths from the flu, including some infants. But the point of this post is to help provide a bit of motivation for those who haven’t been vaccinated yet. Don’t wait any longer. Some protection is better than none. Since there are still several months left before we can bid flu season goodbye, it’s best to get vaccinated today.
Now, as we look forward to my daughter’s return to “normal” activities, we want to ensure she doesn’t pass her infection on to anyone else, including our four other immunized children, my elderly aunt, our expectant family members and my cousin’s infant child. We found this information on the CDC website about how the flu can be spread to be helpful and informative.
Person to Person
People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.
(To avoid this, people should wash their hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Eating utensils can be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap and do not need to be cleaned separately.)
The Flu Is Contagious
Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some persons can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.
Since there is no way to completely avoid exposure to the flu, especially when it is so prevalent in your community, the flu vaccine continues to be one of the best preventive measures we can take. Today I am grateful that my family was vaccinated this season, because otherwise we might all be very sick right now. Too sick to write this post. Too sick to enjoy more holiday celebrations with family.
So, as the last post of 2012, I would like to wish you all a very happy and healthy new year.