It’s time for winter flu shots

BURLINGTON — When 2-year-old Eleanor Wallace-Brodeur was diagnosed with leukemia and started chemotherapy, one of the first things her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins had to do before they could see her was to get the flu vaccine.
“Getting vaccinated against the flu not only helps keep you from getting sick,” said Health Commissioner Harry Chen, “it also protects individuals who are vulnerable to serious, and even deadly complications from the flu.”
Eleanor’s cancer is now in remission, and the bright-eyed, energetic 6-year-old, who also must manage her type 1 diabetes, is Vermont’s 2016 Children’s Miracle Network Champion. In that role, Eleanor and her family travel around Vermont on behalf of the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital where she received her treatment, and in support of other children and families grappling with their own health situations.
“The risk of scary complications and hospitalization was a constant concern. We were always thinking about the health of everyone who came in contact with her,” said Rachel Wallace-Brodeur, Eleanor’s mother. “I tell other families upfront that the best way to help protect their at-risk children is to encourage as many people as possible to be vaccinated.”
Flu season in Vermont starts in late fall and generally peaks during the early winter months. Health officials say this year’s vaccine is a good match for the viruses circulating, and urge everyone 6 months of age and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible. People at high risk of complications include pregnant women, older adults, people with chronic medical conditions and infants younger than 6 months old.
“The vaccine takes about two weeks to become fully effective,” said Dr. Chen. “Vermonters should get a flu shot now, so that they are all set in time for family and other holiday season gatherings.”
Dr. Chen encourages parents and caregivers who wonder whether vaccinating their children is the right choice, to visit the Vermont website oktoaskvt.org to find credible information and to explore concerns.
Where to get your flu shot:
· A nearby flu vaccination clinic.
· Your health care provider office or child’s pediatrician.
· Pharmacies, supermarkets and discount stores.
· Your local health office — for children ages 6 months to 18 years who do not have a pediatrician.
· College health centers.
For more information on where you can get the flu vaccine, dial 2-1-1 or visithealthvermont.gov.
Actions everyone can take to stay healthy and keep illness from spreading:
· Get vaccinated.
· Stay home if you are sick.
· Cover your cough and sneezes.
· Wash hands often and well.
· Get plenty of rest, exercise and eat healthy foods.
·  Drink plenty of fluids.
· Avoid contact with people who are ill.
Learn more about the flu vaccine: www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm.
For more about the flu in Vermont and for health news, alerts and information, visit healthvermont.gov.

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