Caughman Taylor, MD
Palmetto Health Children's Hospital
Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a serious infectious disease you can get from anyone who is already infected. Healthy people can get the flu, and adults and children with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or asthma, are even more at risk. “Up to 80 percent of children who die each year from the flu are children who did not get the flu vaccine,” said CaughmanTaylor, MD, senior director at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital
and chairman of the Pediatrics Department. Most years, flu season lasts from late fall to May.
Common symptoms of the flu include headaches, body aches, persistent cough, sore throat, or a fever that can be high. These symptoms can leave you sick for at least five to seven days.
According to Taylor, complications from the flu can be severe. In fact, last year the flu caused up to 80,000 deaths in the United States, and180 were children. Other complications include:
- Ear infections
- Sinus infections
- Swelling of the heart or brain
- Kidney damage from muscle involvement
The flu also can cause more extreme illness to pregnant women than women who are not pregnant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the flu vaccine for anyone six months and older, which means the vaccine is safe for pregnant women and babies older than six months.
People who doubt the effectiveness of the flu vaccine often believe the flu shot is a cause of infection or causes the flu. Taylor emphasizes that the flu shot does not cause the flu. While admitting the flu vaccine does not provide 100 percent protection, getting the vaccine reduces the risk of getting the flu by more than half.
“We believe so strongly in the flu vaccine that we are offering flu shots in the Children’s Hospital and around our community during the month of October. The shots are free and no insurance is required,” said Taylor.
It is important that you get revaccinated every year, because each strand of the flu is different. Taylor urges you to get the flu vaccine at your physician’s office or one of the locations throughout Richland, Lexington and Sumter counties.
For more information, or to find a location near you, visit the Palmetto Health Children's Hospital website.