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Navigating Flu Season: What You Should Know

It’s that time of year again. The leaves are changing, there is a chill in the air, kids are picking
out their favorite costumes for Halloween, and we are getting ready for Thanksgiving. This time
of year also should remind you to get a flu shot. It’s the time to protect not only yourself but your
family and your community. There seem to be more questions this year. Navigating flu season:
what you should know.

Protect the Most Vulnerable With a Flu Shot

It is something that we hear commonly: I’m going to get the shot so I don’t catch Flu. The reality
is that we get the shot so that we do not get too sick or die from Flu. The Flu vaccine reduces
the severity of the illness, but doesn’t always protect you completely. For people with high risk
conditions, such as children under age 5, and particularly infants and toddlers under age 2.
Also, if a child has a history of recurrent wheezing, or has needed breathing treatments with
albuterol previously, they are at higher risk of pneumonia when they contract Flu. In addition,
people with chronic conditions are more at risk of getting very sick from the flu. Individuals with
known asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and sickle cell anemia are also at
high risk of complications.

Sick child at home.

It’s a common misconception to think that if you get vaccinated against the flu, you help protect
those around you who are most vulnerable and likely to get very sick from flu-like babies, young
children, pregnant women, and older adults. If you care for an older relative, taking them for
their flu shot is part of your care. The truth is that those individuals that are at high risk need the
immunization themselves. Even if you only get a mild case, you can still transmit the illness to
others. The only people who should not get immunized are those under the age of six months,
or if they are allergic to the vaccine components.

The more people who take advantage of the availability of the flu vaccine help to keep your
community safe. You can get a flu shot quickly and conveniently at Pediatrics of Greater
Orlando in Orlando, FL by calling (407) 704-6912.

Another Dangerous Virus

We have been seeing the usual culprits: COVID-19 still lingers in the community, RSV is surging
now, Hand Foot and Mouth disease is common at day care centers, but now we are also seeing
Rhinovirus and Parainfluenza showing up.

RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus can produce thick secretions in the lungs that can lead to
plugging of the little airways that infants and toddlers use to move air through on the way in and
out of their lungs. It is particularly dangerous for preemies, and as the child gets older, the risk of
complications goes down. Many times, toddlers with RSV will end up getting ear infections
within 2-3 weeks after infection. A substantial number of them will have recurrent wheezing
events for up to two years after it resolves. It is a particularly cumbersome nuisance.
Although unusual, a perfectly healthy child can become seriously ill with RSV requiring
hospitalization, oxygen, fluids, and other measures. RSV looks like a bad cold, with thick snot,
and can cause serious inflammation in the baby’s tiny airways. They kind of look like babies with
bad colds that start wheezing.

The good news is that there is a monoclonal antibody that has been approved by the FDA as
recently as August of 2023 for younger children and older adults to protect against RSV. It is not
a vaccine, in the sense that it teaches the immune system to fight RSV, it is a sort of antibiotic
that kills the virus when the infant is exposed to it during their first RSV season. Pediatrics of
Greater Orlando is looking into post marketing events that may occur with this monoclonal
antibody, and we may begin using it in the fall of 2024.

Differences and Similarities Between Flu and COVID-19

You may have some lingering concerns and questions about protecting yourself from COVID-19
as well as the flu.

Both of these infections come from a virus. They are both infectious respiratory illnesses, but
come from different viruses. COVID comes from a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Flu comes
from the influenza virus.

Let’s answer some questions about these two:
● It is safe to get the flu and COVID shot together.
● Older adults at risk for RSV should get that shot alone and wait at least 2 weeks to get
another type of vaccine.
● Everyone should take advantage of COVID-19 boosters since immunity can wane with
● The new COVID boosters include protection from a sub-variant of Omicron called XBB
and will protect you from all strains.
● There is no evidence that getting a flu shot increases your risk of getting COVID.
● CDC recommends almost everyone get a flu shot each season. Now is the time to get
yours at Pediatrics of Greater Orlando in Orlando, FL
● Flu protection can include the shot, nasal sprays, and a special version for adults 65
years and older.
● A flu shot does not protect you from COVID, and a COVID shot does not protect you
from the flu.

Flu Shots Are Safe

The FDA and CDC closely monitor flu vaccines each year to ensure they are safe, and they
have a strong safety record. Americans have safely gotten their flu vaccines for more than 50
years, and there has been extensive research that supports the safety of flu vaccines.

Visit Pediatrics of Greater Orlando for a free or low-cost flu vaccine shot to protect you and those you love this flu season. Call (407) 704-6912 to schedule an appointment with one of our
experienced team members.