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Health experts stress importance of kids and pregnant women getting flu shots

Published: Nov. 9, 2020 at 8:14 AM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lancaster County recently reported its first case of the seasonal flu, and even though numbers aren’t expected to peak until mid-December and January, experts say it isn’t too late to get your flu shot. That’s especially the case for kids and expecting mothers.

Every year, according to the National Foundation for Infectious Disease, almost 20,000 kids under five years old are hospitalized because of flu complications. Doctors say it’s important kids, beginning at six months, get vaccinated for the flu every year.

Right now in Lincoln, all CVS MinuteClinics are able to vaccinate children 18 months and older. Health professionals say children have weaker immune systems than adults and are at higher risks of catching the flu. Experts tell 10/11 if they do get the flu, children also face having higher complications from it, especially those under two years old.

“They don’t wash their hands as [well] as adults do. They’re constantly rubbing thier faces. They don’t understand the proper etiquette to always sneezing into their elbows, avoiding their hands, and they like to play with other children,” said Jennifer Asmus, a CVS MinuteClinic nurse practitioner.

It’s important to note that with each new year, it’s possible for new strains of the flu to pop up, meaning which type of flu shot your child should receive may be different. The most common type of flu shot your child will be vaccinated with are those to fight against influenza A or influenza B.

Weaker immune systems is what also puts expecting mothers in the space to catch the flu more easily than others, and since it takes about two weeks to develop antibodies against the flu, health experts say getting vaccinated now is crucial.

Health professionals say pregnant women experience many changes in their immune systems, making them more prone to severe illness if they get the flu. Getting vaccinated helps to protect the developing baby after birth since the mom passes on those antibodies if she receives the flu shot.

Besides getting vaccinated, they say everyone, including pregnant women and young kids should wash their hands often to prevent spreading germs.

“[Wash your hands] before you eat [and] after you use the restroom. If you don’t have soap and water available, use a hand sanitizer. The other thing you could do is cover your cough. Generally, it’s better to cough in your sleeve or to use a tissue, throw it away right away and wash your hands,” said Asmus.

Health experts say wearing a mask can also help protect you from catching the flu this season, but the best option is still to get vaccinated.

Another reason doctors are urging people to get their flu shots this year is to help keep hospital beds open for COVID-19 patients, instead of flooding them with those sick from the flu.

There are three different CVS MinuteClinic locations in Lincoln offering flu shots.

Most insurance is accepted and you can either walk right in or book an appointment HERE.

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