A Pediatrician’s Prescription for Flu Prevention

Mar 13, 2024 | Children's Health

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The flu season often aligns with the school year, with cases declining after winter break and then flu activity typically ending after spring break. 

In a recent Medical Monday segment on WJDX, Robert Besinger, MD, St. Dominic’s pediatrician, shared his recommendations to prevent flu and its spread, including getting an annual flu vaccine.

Get the Vaccine

The flu vaccine is a cornerstone in defense against influenza, cutting down on illness between 40-60% most years. It also significantly lessens the severity of flu.

“If you’re going to have a serious illness in a child with the flu, it’s almost always an unvaccinated individual,” Dr. Besinger says. Between 80-90% of children who die from the flu each year had not received the flu shot.

Timing Matters

Timing is key when it comes to immunization, as it takes a couple of weeks to develop full immunity post-vaccination. 

Dr. Besinger recommends getting the vaccine earlier in the season, before the virus is heavily circulating in the community. “But it’s never too late to get a vaccine,” he says.

Additional Prevention Strategies

Adopt a multi-pronged approach to avoiding the flu, which like COVID and RSV spreads primarily through respiratory droplets or aerosols in the air. 

Practice good hygiene, which includes frequent handwashing with warm water for 20-30 seconds, and avoid close contact with others who are obviously sick.

Dr. Besinger says improving air quality is the next opportunity to reduce the spread of viral respiratory illnesses, including the flu. 

“Often times you’re going to see these (illnesses) spread more quickly when it’s colder and people are clustered indoors, so cleaning the air is something we can do,” he says. HEPA filtration and improving ventilation as a systemwide approach could reduce the burden of flu and other respiratory infections within our communities.

A strong relationship with your pediatrician can help you on your parenting journey. Connect with an exceptional primary care provider for your child.

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