Tod Novak and his daughter Elizabeth are at Washoe County's Health Department to get her Hepatitis A vaccine. By the looks of it, Elizabeth doesn't mind the shot at all. No crying, no tears.
Tod says his daughter is up to date on her vaccinations. When asked if she's ever had an influenza vaccine before, he says, “I thought about it. I don't know what the pros and cons are for her age. So I haven't decided whether or not to get her one.”
That's the same reaction you'd get from most parents according to a new survey. The National Foundation for Infectious Disease says Americans don't take the flu seriously enough.
Dr. Julie Gerberding from the Centers for Disease Control says health professionals have to help change that attitude. "It is a very important health threat and we need to do more about it, and we need to be more aggressive in taking the steps to save lives," she says.
Americans may have to rethink the way the view the flu. Beginning this year, health officials recommend children between the ages of six-months to five years should get the vaccine. The range was currently, six months to two years.
RN Janet Ford, with the Washoe County Health Department explains why, " If we could immunize those kids we could really cut down on the number of office visits, the number of antibiotics prescribed, and those little kids spread flu to their parents, grandparents and other kids."
Ford says those who take care of children in that age range should get the vaccine as well.
The disease is formidable, killing about 36,000 people and hospitalizing 200,000 people each year.
While most of the deaths and serious health problems occur in the elderly, children too can die from influenza.