Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
QUESTION: My 8-year old daughter and I got our flu shots and then got sick anyway.
I think next year we’ll skip it. What’s the use? — Carolina B., New York
ANSWER: It’s not fair to blame the flu vaccine. There are several viruses out there that are not influenza: respiratory syncytial virus or RSV, rhinovirus, croup and the common cold. You may have had one of those common infections, and your flu vaccine may be protecting you and your daughter even now. Plus, it has many remarkable benefits including, but not limited to, preventing the flu or lessening its impact.
For example, a recent Danish study found that kids who experience a bad-enough infection to require hospitalization are at an 83 percent higher risk of developing a mental disorder and a 42 percent higher risk of using psychotropic medications. The flu qualifies as one of those potentially hospital-serious infections. You want to help your child dodge those risks for sure! And we wonder, could that be related to another study from the U.K. that identified a rise in anxiety among British children, in a country where many kids don’t get flu vaccines?
Adults also are at risk if they skip the shot, and a survey shows that over half of all adults are not vaccinated against the flu, and 4 in 10 don’t intend to get the shot! That’s a shame. A 2013 study of randomized clinical trials published in JAMA showed that “influenza vaccine was associated with a lower risk of major adverse cardiovascular events … The greatest treatment effect was seen among the highest-risk patients with more active coronary disease.”
So for young and old, remember the saying: “For want of a horseshoe nail, the kingdom was lost.” It means if you ignore first steps, one thing leads to another until the end result is not what you want. The same thing can be said about skipping your flu shot. It’s not too late to get one!