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Flu vs. Cold: Clearing up confusion

With the first day of school approaching, some parents are scrambling to make sure their children have their vaccines required by law. (Photo: MGN)

With the first day of school approaching, some parents are scrambling to make sure their children have their vaccines required by law.

But doctors are advising parents to also mark their calendars for another vaccine that's recommended, but not required: the flu vaccine.

"104 kids in the U.S. last year died of it. So we have to take it seriously," says Dr. Harry Jameson, a Pediatrician with Community Medical Providers in Fresno.

Dr. Jameson has worked in pediatrics in the Fresno area for 28 years.

In that time, he's seen a lot of cases-- and confusion.

"Influenza is high fever, severe coughing, severe body aches, runny nose, headache. You feel like you've been run over by a truck," he says. "If you had a sore throat and cough for a couple of days and then felt better, that probably wasn't Influenza."

Some parents think Influenza can be treated with antibiotics.

Dr. Jameson says antibiotics are worthless against viruses.

"They treat bacterial infections and have no place in treating Influenza, unless there are secondary complications," he says. \Some of those secondary complications can include ear infections.

There's also confusion over whether the flu vaccine will cause the person receiving it to get the flu.

"It does not cause Influenza. I like to describe it to parents as our vaccines kick the immune system, and the immune system can kick back a little bit and make you feel kinda crummy," Dr. Jameson says.

He recommends families receive the flu shot in October or November.

It's too soon right now; the effectiveness of the vaccine may wear off before the Influenza season peaks in February or March.

Dr. Jameson recommends parents take their child to the doctor for flu-related illness if the child is having difficulty breathing or if the child is too sick to drink any fluids.


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