It’s Not “Just the Flu” When It Happens to You

26 Mar

Guest post by Laura Scott, Executive Director, Families Fighting Flu

 

Winter is now over and only a handful of people I know got sick with influenza. Besides, it’s just the flu…right?” As Executive Director of the national nonprofit Families Fighting Flu, I hear that a lot. A mild flu season or one that peaks late can give us a false sense of security that it is “just the flu.” But, as I know all too well, the flu doesn’t care about the mildness of the weather, the month of the year or the age of the infected. When it strikes, it can be deadly.

We’ve been fortunate this flu season in that, unlike past years, there have been fewer childhood deaths due to the disease. But even one death is still one death too many, and I worry that this mild flu season will give a false sense of security to those most at risk, including children. With two new flu strains anticipated to be circulating next season, it’s critical that we continue to promote the importance of vaccination for everyone six months of age and older.

This year, for example, we created a new national public service announcement that featured a member’s survival story as a cautionary tale. For those communities affected by a flu-related death, we also created a resource toolkit that provides useful information on how to cope with a loss and how best to prevent another tragedy from occurring.

Given these tools, I’m thrilled that mid-season data suggest that the rate of childhood influenza vaccination has increased since last year. Still, it breaks my heart to see news headlines from across the country detail the loss of a promising athlete, an aspiring artist, a friend, a son or a daughter due to flu. That’s why raising awareness is so important—it’s our best defense against the false sense of security that can come with a mild flu season. After all, it’s not “just the flu” when it happens to you, or to someone that you love.

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