Every October my entire family gets their flu shot. It’s non-negotiable. And I’ll be frank—I used to be indifferent about it, even skeptical. Then a couple of years ago, my daughter got sick from Kawasaki Disease (KD). This made me realize all of the illnesses little ones are susceptible to and learn more about what I can do for her health.
After five days with a fever, a swollen face, puffy red lips and a frightening listlessness, we checked into SickKids hospital. For the first time in my life, I felt what it was like to shed the tears of a mother fearing for her child. Hours went by in an unexplained fog until I was finally told she had what our GP had suspected: KD. I had never heard of it before and that’s not surprising because it’s rare. There are approximately 25 cases per 100 000 in Ontario and you can learn more about the signs and symptoms here.
Luckily the diagnosis is manageable and SickKids specializes in KD so they had the protocol in place to bring my daughter back from her little body’s tailspin. An overnight dose of intravenous immunoglobulin and low-dose aspirin eased her symptoms. While we waited for her to bounce back, I was still scared because I didn’t see the child that I knew lying in that hospital bed. She was so sick that I didn’t recognize her. I couldn’t see any of the spark or charm that I realized I took for granted each and every day.
Less than 24 hours later, she morphed back to the kid that I know best: Curious, silly, loving and of course, sassy. She pressed the buttons on the hospital bed a few hundred times too many, ordered chocolate milk with every meal and got a kick out of watching TV in bed all day in her PJs until it was time to go home. The whole adventure only lasted around 48 hours but its effect will last a lifetime.
Today she has a clean bill of health and I intend to keep it that way. After witnessing her get so sick that I couldn’t see her anymore, my mama bear instincts have kicked into overdrive and I intend to protect her from becoming that ill again. And getting the flu shot is one of many ways I can help keep her as healthy as I can.
Facts & Stats
- In Canada, influenza generally occurs each year in the late fall and winter months.
- Get the flu vaccine every year and get it early. The vaccine is your best defense against the flu. If you do get the flu, you may not get as sick.
- Protecting yourself from the flu also protects the people around you who are at greater risk of getting seriously ill from the flu.
- The flu virus may change year to year. The formulation of the flu vaccine is reviewed each year and updated, when necessary, to match the virus strains that the World Health Organization believes will circulate during the upcoming influenza season. That’s why it’s important to get vaccinated every year.
- The flu vaccine is safe. In Canada, there is rigorous testing of all vaccines.
- Our family will be getting the flu shot this year—find out where to get yours at Ontario.ca
*This post was developed in association with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The opinions are my own.