Learn the Costs Associated with Treating the Flu

Research shows that a flu vaccine is the best course of action in preventing the flu. Since flu symptoms like fever, body aches and pains, cough, and headaches are so unpleasant, you’d think that would be enough to compel people to get their families vaccinated. But, if you and your child have never had the flu before, you may be unfamiliar with how painful the virus is and how serious it's complications can be.

You should know that the value of a flu shot doesn’t just lie in preventing and reducing severe flu-related disease. It also has tangible economic benefits for families.

“When kids get sick with the flu, they often have symptoms severe enough to cause school absence for up to a week or longer, says Stephanie Jernigan, MD, Co-Chief of Medicine, Campus Medical Director, Egleston hospital. “The reality is that this is not only a concern about health. Missed school affects a child’s academic success and can take a toll on a family’s finances.”

What happens to grades when school days are missed?

The Economic Policy Institute’s in-depth analysis of absenteeism found that missing school due to illness negatively impacts a child’s performance no matter how many days a student misses. Even one to two days has an effect. Missing more days or even a week of school when children are too ill to learn can severely impact academic achievement.

How much does it cost to treat the flu?

When kids are sick with the flu, their caregivers must juggle time off of work and cover medical expenses. Researchers have found that this cost can be substantial. Below is a breakdown of lost work time and cost of care for families of kids who had the flu.

Children who tested positive for the flu but used outpatient treatment had caregivers who averaged:

  • 11 hours in missed work time
  • $52 in out-of-pocket expenses

Children who had emergency department or urgent care for flu had caregivers who averaged:

  • 19 hours of missed work time
  • $125 in out-of-pocket expenses
  • $178 in medical costs

Children who were hospitalized due to the flu had caregivers who averaged:

  • 73 hours of missed work time
  • $178 in out-of-pocket expenses
  • $3,990 in medical costs

For busy families, missed work and school as well as unexpected medical expenses add up and are some of the many reasons why it’s so important to vaccinate yourself and your family.

How does a flu vaccine protect my child?

A 2017 study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that getting a flu vaccination reduced severity of illness, need for hospital admission and risk of death from a flu infection. If child who has the flu is hospitalized, a flu shot reduces the need for intensive care and the child’s length of stay.

When’s the best time to get my child a flu shot?

Since the vaccine can take up to two weeks to be effective, it makes sense to get vaccinated early.

There are many places to get vaccinated—the best place is in your child’s pediatrician office. Insurance coverage or special programs for children without medical insurance mean that your child should be able to receive a flu shot without cost to you.

Don’t let cost be a concern when it comes to vaccinating your child against the flu.

This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.