When Father Knows Best: Dad’s Role in Family Flu Protection

December 8th, 2014

by Austin Klise
Men’s Health Network

During National Influenza Vaccination Week, CDC urges you to get a flu vaccination for yourself and your family, if you haven’t yet done so. Flu season is underway, and as long as flu viruses are spreading, the vaccine can help protect you. I learned my lesson the hard way.

Men's Health Network_12.09.14_Image 1When I was growing up, my mom left the house for work each morning, and my dad stayed home with me. He was self-employed and could work from home. Having my dad at home was great. I continually harassed him to wrestle with me, go swimming, or whatever other activity was on my mind – Although there were some things I wished my mom was home for, like taking care of me when I got sick. I remember once I had the flu when my mom was off work, and she was there with everything I could possibly need – tea, soup, medicine, a warm pillow. She took care of it all.

Men's Health Network_12.09.14_Image 3As I grew older, I recall a distinctly different experience with my dad. I started feeling sick at school, and the nurse called my dad to pick me up. When we got home, he checked my temperature to confirm the nurse’s diagnosis, and then went to his office to continue working. At the time, I couldn’t believe he had left me to fend for myself. I was sick! I had the flu and I thought he should have taken care of me. But I also remembered my dad offering to get me a flu shot a few weeks prior while we were at the local drug store. I said no. I didn’t want to wait in line, and believed I wouldn’t get sick and didn’t need the vaccine. But now here I was, living with the consequences of my decision and wishing I would’ve listened.

Fortunately, I didn’t suffer sMen's Health Network_12.09.14_Image 4erious complications during that bout with flu. But young children and pregnant moms are at high risk for complications and hospitalization if they get sick with the flu. And infants under six months of age who are too young to receive the vaccine depend on all of us being vaccinated to help keep them healthy. Each year in the U.S., some children lose their lives to flu-related complications. So the consequences of can be devastating – and a dad’s role in getting his own flu shot each year, and making sure his children also receive the vaccine, is important.

Fathers play a central role in teaching children about their health. I learned a lesson I will never forget, the year I skipped the flu vaccine and dealt with the illness that followed. Teaching your own kids about the annual flu vaccine as a regular part of health care and disease prevention will impact their health this season, and for a lifetime. CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated each and every year. Set a good example by getting vaccinated alongside your little ones, this year and every year to come.Men's Health Network_12.09.14_Image 2

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