ARLINGTON — To answer the two questions the staff of Cascade Valley Arlington Pediatrics receives most often, yes, they have flu and whooping cough vaccine, and yes, their doctors recommend that everyone older than 6 months should get vaccinated.
Dr. Doina Stefan of Cascade Valley Arlington Pediatrics addressed a number of misconceptions that she’s heard from community members about vaccinations, starting with concerns that getting vaccinated can actually cause illness in otherwise healthy patients, when in many cases, patients were already exposed to the flu or another virus before their vaccinations and simply didn’t know it.
“Stomach flu is a different type of flu from influenza,” Stefan said. “It gets confusing because everything is called ‘the flu.’ Some patients have told me that they’ll get reactions like the chills after being vaccinated, but this is normal and such effects tend to lessen with subsequent vaccinations.”
While a number of patients have told her that they don’t get vaccinated for the flu either because they’ve never caught it or they think they can tough out the symptoms, Stefan warned that those who don’t get vaccinated run the risk of infecting those with whom they come into contact, even if they suffer no symptoms themselves.
“Younger children and the elderly are especially susceptible,” Stefan said. “We typically see a lot of reports of illnesses after the holidays when everyone in the family has been hugging and kissing. In addition to avoiding crowded places, even if you want to see your relatives’ newborns, it might be better to keep your distance.”
“Both parents who are expecting, and not just moms, should get those shots, in addition to siblings or any other caretakers or people who will come into close contact with those who are vulnerable to flu or whooping cough,” added Jennifer Egger, community relations coordinator for Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics.
Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control urge not only pregnant women and seniors aged 65 years and older, but also those with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or chronic lung disease to get vaccinated. Vicki Schiessl, employee health nurse at Cascade Valley, likewise recommended the basic step of practicing good hand hygiene.
“Something as simple as washing your hands frequently can significantly reduce your chances of contracting the flu,” said Schiessl, who also encouraged people to stay at home if they’re sick. “If you are experiencing flu symptoms, which can include a cough, sore throat, headache, chills, runny and stuffy nose, or a fever of more than 100 degrees, stay home and recuperate. Shelter in place, get plenty of rest and fluids, and return to work or school when those symptoms have subsided. In addition to being the best thing for your health, it protects those around you from getting ill as well.”
Those who require urgent care without an appointment may visit the Cascade Skagit Health Alliance in Smokey Point from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Cascade Valley Arlington Pediatrics will continue to provide flu and whooping cough vaccine from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays in Suite 130 at 875 Wesley St. in Arlington. For more information, please visit www.cascadevalley.org.