Arizona doctors stress flu vaccine ahead of holidays after first child flu death

Kids 6 years old and under are especially vulnerable to the virus. Though it takes 2 weeks for the vaccine to be in full effect, partial protection is better th
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 9:00 AM MST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2023 at 1:19 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The first pediatric death from the flu has doctors strongly encouraging the flu shot before the holidays. Now is really your last chance to get it before Thanksgiving because it takes one to two weeks to develop a strong resistance. So, if you got it today or tomorrow, you would still have some protection ahead of the holiday.

Millions of people will be traveling from all over the country to be together for Thanksgiving. Travel will likely involve being on a plane and sitting close to people. And when you’re gathered around the dinner table, you’re often in close proximity while laughing, talking, hugging, and eating, which will make it really easy for viruses to spread.

Infants under six months and the elderly are most vulnerable. However, Dr. Gary Kirkilas with Phoenix Children’s says anyone who doesn’t have the shot is at risk.

“Anyone can succumb to it,” he said. “Depending on the year, we might have one pediatric flu death all the way up to 200 pediatric flu deaths. And the majority of those are occurring in children who have not received the vaccine.”

Since the pandemic, Dr. Kirkilas says there have been surges earlier than normal, and the peak of the virus has become harder to predict. “Typically when you think of the flu season, you think of December, January, February but we’ve seen these sorts of surges outside the norm. When you look at the past five years we have seen more flu cases now at the end of October and November than we normally do see,” he said.

Anyone 6 months and older can get the flu shot, and it also offers protection against four different strains of the virus. If you get the shot, you can still get sick from the virus, but likely you won’t get as sick.

Kirkilas also stressed the importance of healthy habits like washing your hands and covering your mouth and nose when coughing.

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