The influenza season is upon us. I noticed in the news that the state of Florida has reported its first flu-related death–a young child who had not been vaccinated. Now, I don’t know any specific facts about this particular case beyond the short news article I read, and I also don’t know if the outcome would have been different if the child had been vaccinated. Many people have reasons not to vaccinate and I understand them. What I would like to share with you are some facts related to influenza vaccinations as published by reputable sources. What I always recommend is to educate yourself so you can make an informed decision–a decision you are comfortable with–for you and your family.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that every person over the age of 6 months (who does not have other contraindications) should receive a vaccination for the flu before the end of October every year. Receiving a flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the chances of contracting the flu by half. If a child does contract the flu, the rate for hospital admission is reduced by 74% IF he/she has been vaccinated. This means the vaccination lessens the severity of the symptoms of the virus. Flu-related deaths in healthy children can be reduced by two-thirds if children are vaccinated. By receiving the vaccination, you are also helping to protect others from contracting the flu—especially those who cannot, for various reasons, receive the vaccine.
At Oak Hill Academy, we live in a secluded community. In many ways, our remoteness helps decrease the chance that the influenza virus will find its way onto our campus. However, there are still opportunities for our students to contract the virus whenever they travel off campus, especially for open weekends and the upcoming holiday breaks. The CDC recommends that travelers get vaccinated at least two weeks before traveling in order for the vaccination’s effectiveness to be at its peak before potential exposure.
The tight-knit community here, in which we all live in close proximity to each other, could make it difficult to keep from getting the flu if it does arrive on campus. One of the best ways we prevent our students from becoming sick each year is by offering to administer the flu vaccination to everyone—students and staff. During the first week in October, I administered the vaccination to all students whose parents/guardians requested it. I still have several doses of the vaccine available, so it is not too late for your child to receive a vaccination. If you would like me to do this, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about having this done.
Thanks for reading,
Betsy Anderson, RN, BSN
Oak Hill Academy Nurse