2011 FluMist is now available!
Friday, January 28, 2011
We've survived the worst of H1N1, according to most experts. But guess what? It is that time of year again! Are you ready for flu season 2010-2011?
Hard to believe, but we are embarking on a new flu season. And as always, there are a few changes to the flu vaccine recommendations.
First, there will only be one flu vaccine this year. Hooray!! Since we have a better understanding of H1N1 (or "novel influenza" or "swine flu"), and what it's potential is, it has been included in the 3 strains of the yearly seasonal flu vaccine this fall.
But one of the many lessons H1N1 taught us this past year is that a single vaccine, for kids under 9 years old, doesn't seem to be protective enough. So, we have a booster dose to deal with with SOME selected children. The CDC recommendation is that if your child is under 9 years of age and did NOT receive any H1N1 protection (vaccine), and did NOT have documented H1N1 by nasal swab, then your child needs TWO seasonal flu vaccines this year. These vaccines, whether they be by shot or nasal spray, should be separated by at least 4 weeks.
If your child got at least one H1N1 vaccine last year, had documented H1N1, or is 9 years of age or older, one seasonal flu vaccine will do this year.
When to get it? How about now?! FluMist, the influenza nasal spray for kids over 2 years of age who have no history of inhaler use in the past year, is available in both offices presently. Just call for an appointment. For those kids who need the injectable version, stay tuned. We should be receiving our first shipment of shots in early September. Please call after Labor Day to check on injectable vaccine availabilty.
As we did last year, we will be scheduling after-school and Saturday flu clinics for your convenience. Please call for an appointment.
The CDC has already reported at least two small outbreaks of flu nationally. So protect yourself and your family! We will be immunizing all children over 6 months of age. If you have a young infant under 6 months of age at home, protect that baby by immunizing the rest of the family!
See you in the office!
2009 Novel H1N1 flu: What Parents Need to Know
Unless you were stranded on a desert island this past year, you certainly heard of the H1N1 flu pandemic. For months we were bombarded by TV and radio reports concerning novel H1N1 flu. And for a while it seemed that the news media was keeping count of each and every hospitalization…and worse. So if you were like me, you worried about your family and your young children. So what does "novel" H1N1 mean? And what exactly is a "pandemic?" Are we done with H1N1? Is it still worthwhile immunizing our infants and children this Spring?
H1N1 is a considered a "novel" virus because the world has not seen this exact virus before. There is no one who therefore had previous protective immunity. H1N1 is known to be impressively contagious and has a few other qualities that make doctors worry that it might have the potential to be much more dangerous than the usual flu. A "pandemic" is a rapidly spreading illness that affects most countries in the world. The 2009 H1N1 flu certainly has met this definition.
H1N1 swept through New Haven in two waves last year. The first hit in May and the second in late October. At last estimate, there were about 60 million cases of H1N1 in the United States, 250,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 U.S. deaths (about 1,200 of those who died were children). And the experts feel it is possible that Connecticut could experience another wave of flu activity caused by H1N1 in 2010. So even though "flu season" is almost over, H1N1 flu might just be able to mount another attack this Spring, just like it did in 2009. And to be safe, next Fall's flu vaccine (which is already being produced) will contain, among other strains, protection against H1N1 flu virus.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
-fever over 100 degrees AND sore throat or cough and possibly one or more of the following:
-runny or stuffy nose
-vomiting and sometimes diarrhea
Who is at highest risk?
-children under 5 years of age
-adults over 65
-all people with existing medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, cancer, heart problems or lung disease
-all people with immune system problems like HIV or people on medicines that lower the immune system
How can I prevent the flu in my family?
1. Get your family immunized. There were two vaccines given to protect patients this year. One for the seasonal flu (very important) and one for H1N1 flu (also very important). Talk to your doctor about the vaccine(s) that are right for you and your child.
2. Take everyday preventative actions. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve. Wash your hands often. Both soap and water and Purell are very effective in killing flu virus. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth since this is how the virus is passed. Teach your child these rules.
What can I do if my child is sick?
-Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks lots of fluids
-Seek medical care if your child's illness is severe or if your child has any of the above mentioned medical conditions. Any respiratory difficulty, signs of dehydration or fever lasting more than 72 hours should also prompt contact with your health care provider. Some severe cases of flu can be treated with special medicines. Your doctor will decide if you or your child is a medication candidate.
-Keep your child out of daycare or school until the fever (Temp > 100 degrees) is gone for at least 24 hours without the use of Tylenol or Motrin.
For more information, visit www.cdc.gov or call 1-800-CDC-INFO