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3 Top Tips for Shots

Jennifer Bright on

From the very beginning, my sons were so different. One of them was easygoing; when he had to get a shot, he cried for a few minutes, and then he was fine. His brother, on the other hand, started screaming the second the nurse got close with the needle, and he didn't stop screaming until we were back home.

I followed the standard vaccination schedule as my pediatrician advised, and I also have always gotten my sons -- and myself -- a yearly flu shot. This year is no exception. In fact, we got them yesterday.

I've always told my sons that a few seconds of pain are far better than days or weeks of sickness. This year, they did make a valid point for not getting a flu shot. "But, Mom, we're hardly going anywhere, and when we do, we wear masks. How could we catch the flu?"

"The symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar, so it would be problematic to get one and not know which it is," I explained. "Plus, I don't even want to think of how horrible it would be to have both at the same time!"

It's more important to get a flu shot this year than ever before. A study found that, for older people, every 10% increase in a county's flu vaccination was correlated with a 28% decrease in COVID-19 intensive care unit admissions. So, it's possible that there is some cross-reactivity. (The study controlled for general preventive health and still found the difference.)

Here's what our Mommy M.D.s -- doctors who are also mothers -- do to encourage their own families to get flu shots.

 

"Get your flu shot!" says Michelle Davis-Dash, M.D., a mom of two and a board-certified pediatrician in Baltimore. "This year will be almost imperative to get it to decrease the serious flu disease burden in the midst of the pandemic.

"For my kids, I just take them to get it and emphasize the importance of getting the shot to protect themselves and our community," Davis-Dash continues. "As a dual-physician family, my husband and I compete to see who gets the flu shot first!"

"It's not easy to watch your baby get shots," says Jeannette Gonzalez Simon, M.D., a mom of two daughters, a pediatric gastroenterologist in private practice, and the founder and CEO of Dr. Simon's Remedy, a line of natural products for your baby, in Essex County, New Jersey. "I'd just try to hold my baby down, soothe her as best I could and hope we got a nurse who was really quick!

"After it was over, I'd scoop my baby up and give her a big hug, and I always had her bottle ready," continues Simon. "My daughter was never a pacifier baby, but once she had her milk, she'd calm down really quickly."

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