Thanks to the CDC for sponsoring this post with valuable information about the flu. Remember always consult your doctor before making medical decisions.
National Influenza Vaccination Week was establish in 2005 to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination throughout the holidays and beyond. This year it runs from Dec 7th to the 13th.
Last year I shared three misconceptions about the flu vaccine that I invite you to read. And this year I want to share excerpts from an interview I had this week with Dr. Marietta Vázquez about the flu.
Dr. Marietta Vázquez
Dr. Vázquez has over 20 years experience in the medical field. She is currently an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Yale University School of Medicine. She is the Associate Director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Yale, Director of the Yale-Children’s Hispanic Clinic and Co-director of the Yale Pediatrics Global Health Tract. Dr. Vazquez has been working with the CDC and currently sits on the CDC’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices.
So before there’s another sniffle, here are some of the highlights from my interview with Dr. Vázquez (Please note: this interview was conducted in Spanish and has been translated into English):
Before my questions, Dr. Vázquez began by saying this about the importance of flu vaccination:
“Vaccines are medicines that help the body protect itself against infection…The medicine contained in vaccines has been given for many years. They have distributed millions and millions and millions of doses throughout the world and it has been proven that vaccinations prevent illnesses…What happens when children are not vaccinated? In the case of babies, for example, it leaves them susceptible to infections at the very moment they are at greater risk. Even though vaccines have certain side effects like fever, redness, and pain at the injection site, these are manageable symptoms. It’s important to compare these to the effects of falling ill. Vaccinations are safe and effective.”
At what age should a child be vaccinated?
Dr. Vázquez: “Children can be vaccinated from six months of age and beyond. Children below 2 years of age will receive the vaccination by injection, but from 2 years on they can receive the vaccine intra-nasally. An exception would be children who have pulmonary diseases such as asthma, in this case the intra-muscular injection is appropriate.”
Is it important that pregnant women be vaccinated?
Dr. Vázquez: “The best way to protect a baby before birth is to vaccinate the mother during pregnancy. It is a strategy that is safe and that works. Doing so protects two individuals with one vaccination. Anybody can be infected with influenza and end up in the hospital, but two of the groups who are at higher risk of complications from the flu are babies less that 6 months and pregnant women… (In this case) the vaccination against flu begins from before birth.”
What barriers do Hispanics face when it comes to getting vaccinated against the flu?
“The rate of vaccination is good amongst Hispanics in the United States. If we talk about barriers, at times, language may be one, for others it’s access to healthcare, but it’s important to know that in the United States there is a federal program called the Vaccines for Children Program that provides vaccines for children from birth to 18 years old. To take advantage of it, patients can go to the health department or their doctor.”
Finally, Dr. Vázquez mentioned that the good thing is flu vaccines are available in many locations, like stores and pharmacies, which is very convenient for those who work long hours. Other places to look are health centers. And she emphasized that many cases of the flu appear between December and February, so it’s never too late to get vaccinated. Vaccinations are available until the month of April.
Thank you, Dr. Vázquez for your time and for sharing your expertise with us.
For more information about influenza, visit the CDC official website right here.
To find locations where you can get the vaccine, just enter your zip code in the following window.
Remember, it’s never too late to consider getting your flu shot, but the sooner you do it, the better.
Disclaimer: This post is intended for general informational purposes regarding National Influenza Vaccination Week only and should not be construed as medical advice. Please speak with your doctor or other qualified health care professional about your specific health needs. Please see Mama Latina Tips’ general health disclosure here.