Wednesday, October 7, 2015

New Parent or Grandparent? Get Your Flu Shot First

By Rakhi Dimino, MD
Medical Director of Operations, OB Hospitalist Group
Member, TMA Council on Science and Public Health

If you are about to welcome a new baby into your family or have had the pleasure of doing so in the last six months, now is the time to get your flu shot! Each year thousands of new parents land themselves in the emergency department ― or worse, in the hospital — with their newborn because of the flu.

The flu is an uncomfortable inconvenience for most healthy adults but a deadly infection for many newborns. Newborns below the age of 6 months cannot receive the flu vaccine, so the best method to prevent the virus is to make sure no one around them is contagious. Unfortunately, most of us who contract the flu are actually infectious prior to feeling any obvious symptoms. Therefore, the best way to prevent a baby from becoming sick from the flu is to vaccinate everyone around them.

People must get a flu vaccine each year to prevent the type of flu virus anticipated during the current flu season, which runs from about October to the beginning of April. It takes a couple of weeks after receiving the vaccine for it to become effective. So if you will be visiting a new baby in the family soon or over the upcoming holidays, make sure to protect your new family member by getting your flu vaccine at least two to four weeks prior to your visit. This vaccine is safe for most and is recommended for most who are not allergic to eggs. Children over the age of 6 months who are about to become an older sibling should be vaccinated as well. See your doctor or your pharmacist to obtain the vaccine now. And don’t forget to wash your hands!

Dr. Dimino is a Houston OB-Gyn and Medical Director of Operations for OB Hospitalist Group.

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