This op-ed from a school nurse originally published in the Times Herald.
You can view it here: http://bwne.ws/2iMIlPK
As a school nurse for 15 years, I have seen dozens of students miss class due to the flu. Now that the school year is underway, it’s important for parents to understand how necessary the flu vaccination is for keeping kids healthy and safe.
But first, I want to address a common misconception. The flu is often confused with the term “stomach flu,” to describes illness with nausea, vomiting or diarrhea — but this isn’t the influenza virus (“the flu”). Another big misconception? That influenza isn’t serious.
The reality is that influenza is more dangerous than the common cold for children. Each year, millions of children get sick with seasonal influenza; thousands are hospitalized and some children die from the flu. A total of five influenza-associated pediatric deaths in Michigan have been reported for the 2016-17 season.
Why take that risk? You can protect your child and others around them by making sure they get a flu shot — every year.
The flu generally doesn’t sweep schools until late November or December, but it’s important to get the vaccination now — before it begins to spread. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop, so the Centers for Disease Control recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. Keep in mind that it’s smart — and safe — to get your flu shot even if it’s after that, including into January or later.
There is a lot of misinformation about vaccinations out there, including the flu shot. For answers, I recommend Michigan parents to visit www.IVaccinate.org. Serving as an educational tool, I Vaccinate provides scientific facts regarding vaccinations and has a full list of answers to common questions about the flu.
Don’t put your child at risk of something that’s preventable. For every opinion, there’s a fact backed by science. Your child’s health is not up for debate. Get in contact with your health provider to make sure your child is up-to-date on all vaccinations, including flu.
Bad Axe, Nov. 21