Flu is a Family Affair: How to Protect Your Family This Flu Season
By Angie Wehrkamp, Sponsored by GSK, Flu is a Family Affair
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that can cause mild to severe illness but can sometimes lead to hospitalization and even death. It can spread easily through coughing, sneezing and respiratory secretions.1
Every flu season is a heartbreaking reminder of how the flu changed my life. In 2015, I lost my beautiful, spirited two-year-old, Gianna, to the flu with little warning, and this happened in less than 48 hours from her showing her first symptom. That year, my whole family had received flu vaccination either through work or school, and we had every intention to also vaccinate Gianna, but without a designated clinic it fell off our radar as busy parents of two kids. That decision will forever be my biggest regret in life.
Be Informed on Signs and Symptoms of the Flu
When Gianna first got sick, she had just a fever that could have been mistaken for a common cold – but I was worried it could be the flu when her breathing didn’t sound right the next day, so I took her to the pediatrician.
“The flu is very different from the common cold,” said Leah Smith, pharmacist and vaccine educator with GSK. “It is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses and can be spread easily through coughing, sneezing and respiratory secretions. It may impact each person differently, but flu symptoms have a sudden onset and typically include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches or fatigue.”
In memory of my daughter, Gianna, I joined Families Fighting Flu, a national non-profit organization to help with their mission of educating others on the seriousness of influenza and empowering them to help protect their families. This year, I am helping to spread awareness through GSK’s “Flu is a Family Affair campaign,” which helps educate on the importance of annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older, including healthy adolescents and adults, and provides steps you can take to help protect and prepare your family this flu season.1 The best way to reduce your risk from seasonal flu and its potentially serious complications is to get vaccinated every year.2
Appoint a “Chief Health Officer” For Your Family
The “Chief Health Officer” is anyone who is at the center of a family that serves as the health decision-maker—including moms, dads, aunts/uncles, grandparents, or siblings. Some responsibilities may include scheduling and going to appointments, picking up and administering medicine and staying on top of vaccination needs. Appoint a Chief Health Officer for your family if you haven’t already.
As the Chief Health Officer of my family, I urge you to make it a priority to talk to your family doctor or pharmacist about the flu and flu prevention as soon as possible, and make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision for your family.
Know Your Risks
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while anyone can get sick with the flu, it can be serious for people 65 years and older, people with certain chronic health conditions, pregnant women and young children.1 Beyond that, there is data that shows there is higher risk for getting flu or developing serious illness resulting in hospitalization for certain ethnic groups.3
“I hope everyone reading this understands their personal risks, and is proactive to help protect their family from the flu,” said Leah Smith, pharmacist and vaccine educator with GSK.
Schedule Appointments for Your Family’s Flu Vaccinations If You Haven’t Already
The CDC states that the best way to protect against the flu is for everyone six months of age and older to get vaccinated annually.1 This includes if you are pregnant during flu season.4 Don’t wait for another reminder; plan to talk to your or your family’s doctor or pharmacist about vaccination.
To learn more about how you can help protect your family, visit our site, FluIsaFamilyAffair.
1 CDC. Key Facts about Influenza (Flu). Reviewed October 24, 2022. Accessed February 6, 2023. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/keyfacts.htm.
2 CDC. Prevent Flu. Reviewed December 19, 2022. Accessed February 6, 2023. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/index.html
3 CDC. Flu Disparities Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups. Reviewed October 18, 2022. Accessed February 6, 2023. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/disparities-racial-ethnic-minority-groups.html
4 CDC. Frequently Asked Influenza (Flu) Questions: 2022-2023 Season. Reviewed November 21, 2022. Accessed February 6, 2023. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2022-2023.htm