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Oct 27, 2016

Protecting Against the Flu and RSV

By Suzanne Ferguson, @suzannerferguson

It’s that time again. The leaves are starting to change to vibrant colors of orange, red, and yellow. The chilly weather prompts you to dig out your cozy sweaters and warm jackets, and every store and coffee shop have begun selling pumpkin flavored goods.

Unfortunately, that also means flu season is upon us. Healthy children and adults may only have mild cold-like symptoms with the flu but children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) and other complex congenital heart diseases may face complications due to the flu. These complications may need escalated medical support so it is extremely important to prevent this illness by getting a flu shot! It’s also important for healthy children and adults to get the flu shot to prevent the spread of the flu to those with chronic illnesses. It’s essential to always discuss your specific situation with your care team but generally, the flu shot is recommended for everyone over the age of six months.

The flu shot is a vaccine that helps prevent against certain strains of the Influenza virus – the virus that causes the flu. It takes two weeks after receiving the shot for the body to build up immunity, and it is important to get vaccinated each year because every year there are different strains of the flu that the shot protects against.   dr-and-child-for-post

Similar to the flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can also cause a lung infection which may lead to serious consequences in children with HLHS and complex congenital heart disease. It is recommended for high-risk babies to receive an injection called Palivizumab (Synagis®), which contains antibodies against RSV. It is an injection given monthly in the months of winter during the first year of life to help protect from RSV infection.

Talk to your physician or care team about the flu shot and Palivizumab (Synagis®), and enjoy the cooler weather.


The Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) is a collaborative network of specialists bonded by the vision of delaying or preventing heart failure for individuals affected by congenital heart defects including HLHS. The specialized team is addressing the various aspects of these defects by using research and clinical strategies ranging from basic science to diagnostic imaging to regenerative therapies.

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