by Laura Scott, Executive Director, Families Fighting Flu

“I have a fever.” Those four dreaded words that make any mom cringe when she hears them during flu season. But, for once, it wasn’t one of my daughters. Instead, it was my husband, Jeremy, who is normally always healthy.Scott Family

It was Christmas Eve day, and my husband asked me if I thought he should get tested for influenza. As someone who lives and breathes the world of influenza through my work at Families Fighting Flu, my immediate response was, “Absolutely.” But, my gut instinct told me that it wasn’t the flu and he’d be fine. He was only running a low-grade fever and had no other symptoms.

I was wrong.

Two hours later, Jeremy came home from the doctor’s office with not only a diagnosis of influenza A (the H3N2 drifted strain), but also four prescriptions of Tamiflu – one for each of us.

There is not a flu season that goes by that my family is not vaccinated. Every fall, Jeremy and our girls (ages 9 and 7) line up to get vaccinated. This season was no different. But, never did I imagine that we’d be spending Christmas morning with masks on our faces and hand sanitizer always within arm’s reach to try to avoid spreading this highly contagious disease to one another.

The good news is, because Jeremy was vaccinated against the flu earlier in the season, he had a relatively mild case of influenza. He ran a fever for about four days and felt lethargic for a week. But, other than that, he felt relatively well.

I believe this is because he was vaccinated and started Tamiflu the same day his symptoms appeared. Even though the H3N2 influenza strain that he caught was not in the vaccine, the immunization and antiviral medication provided him some benefit, which helped lessen his symptoms and the duration of the disease.

Because Jeremy’s doctor had the smarts to prescribe our daughters and me Tamiflu prophylactically, we did not get sick. What a blessing!

This is why annual flu vaccination is so important! We know the vaccine is not a great match this season to the dominating circulating strain of the virus, but as my family learned, some benefit is certainly better than no benefit at all – and this year’s vaccine does provide some benefit.

The take-home message is this: The value of vaccination during any flu season far outweighs the risks of this very serious disease.