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Flu season again? Oh yes! Why do we need to immunize our children against Flu?

By, Dr. Anca Tomsa, M.D. FAAP

As winter season arrived in Sunny Florida, despite the overall nice and warm weather, almost every day at least one of my patients will come to clinic sick with high fever and chills, runny nose, body aches, headaches, vomiting and will test positive for Flu. We are in full Flu season and every day the Flu vaccine is offered to all of our patients who were not immunized yet against Flu.

But what is Flu?

– Flu is a short term for Influenza. This is a viral infection, spread via person to person interaction, when someone sneezes or coughs, or spread by touching surfaces contaminated with secretions from virus and then touching the nose, eyes or mouth.
– Flu season in United States peaks December to February and can last as late as May.

Here are a few reasons why we recommend to immunize against Flu:

Secondary to flu infection children can develop: ear or sinus infections or even pneumonia.
According to American Academy of Pediatrics, during the 2016-17 season, more than 100 U.S. children died of the flu, and thousands more were hospitalized for severe illness or complications from the virus.
Significant number of death from Flu related complications in pediatric population: according to one study from July 2010-June 2014, there were 358 pediatric deaths confirmed to be due to Flu for children aged 6 months to 17 years.
More than 80 percent of children who died of influenza were not vaccinated.

Who should get immunized against Flu vaccine:

all patients older than 6 months of age
caregivers, pregnant women or people in contact with infants less than 6 months of age
patients 6 months to 8 years old receiving Flu vaccine for the first time require 2 dose of vaccine 28 days apart
all healthcare personnel, childcare providers and staff

Here are some of the most common myths about the Flu vaccine I hear often from our patients, parents, and caregivers:

“Am I not going to get sick after I get the Flu Shot? “

  • NO, You WILL NOT get sick because of the Flu vaccine. The injectable form of the vaccine is made of inactive viral particles. This means, the virus is “dead” has no capability to activate and spread once injected.
  • It takes 2-weeks for the body to produce effective immunity response against the Flu vaccine once immunized. During this 2-week period you are still at risk of getting the Flu infection.

“I am allergic to eggs; can I still get the Flu vaccine?”

  • Patients with only hives after exposure to eggs can get any licensed Flu vaccine according to CDC (Center for Disease Control)
  • Patients with severe egg allergies (angioedema, vomiting, respiratory distress) or who required Epinephrine injection due to egg allergies can still receive the Flu vaccine as long as it is given in a Hospital or medical setting with health provider who able to recognize and treat allergies.
  • Patients with egg allergies no longer have to wait 30 minutes after being given the Flu vaccine.

Finally, I would like to inform you of other methods you can use, in addition to Flu vaccine, to protect children and yourself from infection with Flu:
– Staying away from sick people who have : fever, cough, runny nose, sneezing.
– Washing hands often in order to reduce the spread of germs.
– If you or your child has been diagnosed with the Flu, do not go to work or school to prevent spreading the Flu.
– Also, prescription medications are available to reduce the spread of Flu once contaminated with the disease.

Important new information from CDC for 2017-2018 flu season:

Only injectable flu shots are recommended for this year. For season 2017-2018 it is recommended NOT to use the LAIV nasal flu vaccine.
The vaccine comes in either a trivalent or quadrivalent form, which protect against three strains (2 A and 1 B) or four strains (2 A and 2 B) of the virus, respectively. While the influenza A (H1N1) virus in both formulations differs from that contained in the 2016-2017 seasonal vaccines, the influenza A (H3N2) vaccine strain and influenza B vaccine strains are the same.

With hope that this information will help clarify some of the questions you have about the Flu vaccine I wish for all of our little patients and their families , to stay healthy and Flu free this season!

For more information about the Flu vaccine you can go to: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2017-2018.htm

Resources:

  1. Center for Disease control: www.cdc.gov
  2. Brendan Flannery et al., Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Against Pediatric Deaths, Pediatrics’, April 2017
  3. American Academy of Pediatrics: www.aap.org

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