While cases of influenza-like-illness are currently low in the region, Tower Health physicians are encouraging parents and guardians to schedule an appointment for children who have not yet received the annual flu vaccine to protect them from seasonal influenza.
“We know the flu shot is the best way to protect oneself from the flu and it’s not too late to get vaccinated,” said Olubunmi Ojikutu, MD, Chair, Department of Pediatrics at Reading Hospital – Tower Health. “In addition to protecting yourself, getting a flu vaccine can also help protect vulnerable individuals who are not able to receive the vaccine or are considered high-risk if they contract the flu.”
In an effort to encourage the flu vaccine to Tower Health’s pediatric patients, the health system has implemented a “vaccinate at any point of contact.” This eliminates the need for families to schedule multiple appointments for the care they need to stay healthy this season.
Sign and symptoms of flu could include:
- Fever higher than 100°F
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue (very tired)
- Sore throat
- Muscle pain
Christopher Valente, MD, Chief, Section of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Reading Hospital added, “We always encourage families to contact their child’s physician or seek care at one our Urgent Care facilities or Emergency Department, if they are concerned about the child. If their child becomes less responsive, excessively fussy or irritable, seems short or breath or is having difficulty breathing, has significant vomiting or appears dehydrated, the caregiver should come to the emergency department immediately or call 9-1-1.”
The composition of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated to match circulating flu viruses. Flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses that research suggest will be most common. Even if the flu vaccine doesn’t precisely match the actual strains in our community, it still provides significant protection against getting sick, and can lessen symptoms should an individual fall ill.
To help prevent the spread of flu Tower Health recommends everyone perform frequent hand hygiene with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; wear a face mask, practice respiratory hygiene by covering your sneeze or cough when not face masked; disinfect high touch common areas frequently (phones, computers, tablets) and continue to practice social distancing.
Tower Health requires an annual flu vaccine for all employees and associates. The implementation of this mandatory flu vaccine policy demonstrates our commitment to protect the safety and health of our patients, many of whom already have weakened immune systems, as well as visitors, co-workers, and our families.
Individuals still needing a flu shot should schedule an appointment with their primary care provider or visit any Tower Health Urgent Care location.
For additional information on the flu visit towerhealth.org/flu.