Fall in Arizona is absolutely beautiful! It’s why people come from around the U.S. to our state, to enjoy the cooler temperatures, breezy afternoons and chilly evenings by the fire. Fall is the time of year when you snuggle up closer to friends and family on the couch with a hot chocolate, some favorite comfort foods, and some football. It’s also the flu’s favorite time of year.
This year, an average of 76,000 and 303,000 Phoenix-area residents will get hit with the flu, and many of those cases can be prevented with a simple flu vaccine. Back in the day…when we were kids…the flu vaccine wasn’t as necessary. In fact, I personally have never even considered getting the vaccine. Throughout childhood and early adulthood getting the flu vaccine wasn’t even a thought in the back of my mind. But now, with the H1N1 out there along with millions of different strands of the flu, it’s important to do your part to protect not only yourself but the ones around you.
“Influenza is a serious respiratory illness that is easily spread and can lead to severe complications, even death, for you or someone with whom you come into contact. Each year in the U.S., influenza and its related complications result in approximately 226,000 hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. Vaccination is safe and effective, and the best way to help prevent influenza and its complications.”
“But it’s just the flu,” you’re probably thinking as I used to. “We get it, we get over it and life goes on.” Unfortunately it’s not that simple for children with disabilities. Sure, we might get it, be out of work for a day or two, and move on, but if our children end up with the flu it’s a whole different story.
Those most susceptible to getting the flu are adults over the age of 50, children between 6 months and 18 years of age, pregnant women, and anyone with chronic health conditions. The CDC also recommends annual immunization for caregivers and household members of these high risk groups, such as relatives and health care providers.
The scariest part about the flu is that the CDC reported back in 2009 that the H1N1 flu risk is much higher for children with disabilities. “For people who do have an underlying condition, it’s important to be seen promptly if you get a fever. That could make the difference between being severely ill and recovering well,” said Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC. “Treatment in the first 48 hours can make a big difference in hastening your recovery.”
Here are some hard numbers regarding the flu and children with disabilities:
67% of the children that died from the H1N1 had “high risk medical conditions”
The percentage of children who died in the
92% of the children that died did have neurodevelopmental conditions (developmental delays or cerebral palsy) — oh, oh I thought it’s true
This 92% was consistent with what had been found in past influenza seasons — whew, good! Wait a minute though, does that mean kids with disabilities are at a higher risk EVERY year?
The findings indicate that most of the children with neurodevelopmental conditions who died had MULTIPLE neurodevelopmental diagnosis AND/or comorbid pulmonary conditions
So, back to the point of this drawn out blog; get your kids vaccinated. There are free vaccination clinics all over the valley. If you’re child shows any symptoms (trouble breathing, gray skin color, not drinking enough fluids, vomiting, fever, not interacting normally, being irritable, cough, sniffles) take a day off an recover.
For more information on the flu, who it affects and where you can get immunized, visit http://www.facesofinfluenza.org/en.
Kandice is the CEO and founder of Linwright Design, a Gilbert web design and marketing company that focuses on content marketing. Google for more information. A Special Connection Foundation is a non-profit helping kids with disabilities.