Everyone knows someone who has had the flu this season. Many people think it’s too late to get a preventive flu shot (vaccine), because surely it has run its course in our community. Well, it isn’t too late, and the flu season isn’t over by a long shot.
We will be seeing flu cases until at least spring break. Last year we still had cases in April, so there are eight weeks of flu season left.
If your child hasn’t had a flu shot yet, now is the time. We see in our practice how effective the vaccine is for your family.
This year to date we have had 279+ cases of the flu in our practice alone. In the previous two flu seasons, the total number of cases in our practice were 234 (2016-17) and 148 (2015-16). As you can see, the numbers are higher this year, which means your family has an increased exposure.
But the vaccine helps a great deal. Of the 279 cases so far, 125 cases were of Type A flu among those who had not had the vaccine. Only 46 children who’d had the vaccine got Type A flu. There have been 80 cases of Type B among those with no vaccine, and only 28 cases of Type B in kids who’d had the flu shot.
We have given over 3,500 doses of flu vaccine this season, and we find the chances are much greater of contracting flu when patients haven’t had the shot.
Every year we notice in our practice:
Patients that get the vaccine have a milder course. According to an article by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “During past seasons, approximately 80% of flu-associated deaths in children have occurred in children who were not vaccinated. Based on available data, this remains true for the 2017-2018 season, as well.”
In families where everyone is vaccinated and someone gets the flu, the entire household may not be affected
Even when the vaccine fails for one strain, it will protect against other strains. As you can see above, we are seeing plenty of both types.
Getting one strain will not protect you from the other (if you’ve had Type A already, you may still get Type B, and vice versa). So even if you’ve had the flu, you should still get the shot.
It takes two weeks for the vaccine to be protective. For infants and toddlers, it takes 2 doses of vaccine to be effective. Note: Infants and children 6 months to less than 9 years of age who received at least 2 doses of trivalent or quadrivalent influenza vaccine prior to July 1, 2017 need only 1 dose of the 2017 to 2018 seasonal influenza vaccine. The 2 doses need not have been received during the same season or consecutive seasons. All other children less than 9 years of age (including those whose vaccination status cannot be determined) should receive 2 doses separated by 4 or more weeks in order to achieve effectiveness, according to the CDC.
If you don’t remember when your infant or child had a vaccine, call our office.
Tamiflu is not a guaranteed back up plan if your family gets the flu. We are now starting to experience shortages of Tamiflu and it may not be widely available in the next few weeks. However, we still have vaccine available.
Bottom line: the flu is still prevalent, but you can help protect your family by getting everyone vaccinated.
Having encouraged all of you to be vaccinated against the flu, we think this is a good time to give you a local update.
Here are some very interesting statistics:
So far this season, Georgetown Pediatrics has administered 4200 doses of flu vaccine, including both shots and nasal mist.
We have had 76 positive flu tests in our office. Of those 76, one was influenza type B, one was both influenza A and B, and 74 were influenza type A (H1N1).
Only 22 patients who received flu vaccine in our office also tested positive in our office for the flu. Of course, some patients may have been diagnosed with the flu elsewhere or had the flu and weren’t diagnosed at all, or some may have received the vaccine elsewhere. Even so, we are happy to note that only 1 in 190 patients who received our vaccines tested positive for flu here.
The bottom line is that flu vaccine works.
Something else you should know: it isn’t too late to get the vaccine. Even if you’ve already had the flu, it was likely type A, and you can still contract type B. Both types are covered by the vaccines. Once kids are back in school after these snow days the virus is bound to be spread more.
We often see cases of influenza B all the way until spring break, so don’t hesitate to come in. Just remember that if you receive the nasal mist you will test positive for the flu for about two weeks, because it’s a live vaccine and the test is a nasal swab.
As winter drags on, you may not be able to stop the snow and ice, but you can certainly lower the risk of your family getting the flu.
No one likes to get a shot, but we all know they are necessary. Whether getting an annual flu vaccine or immunizations for school, your child will sometimes be coming to our office to receive a shot. How you prepare your child is important and may make the event go better for all concerned.
While every child is different, some basics are helpful.
Tell the truth. If you tell your child she’s not getting a shot, or that it won’t hurt, she may not want to go to the doctor’s office again, even when she won’t be getting a shot.
Tell the truth–again. Explain that though the shot will hurt a little, it won’t last long and it will keep him healthy for a very long time.
Don’t blame the doctor or nurse. They often hear some version of: “If you don’t behave, the nurse will give you a shot.” Vaccinations are not punishment; they are insurance against future illness. Words spoken against the nurse or doctor, even in jest, can harm your child’s view of medical personnel—the people who are there to help. Your child should feel positively about our staff; it will make it easier for you to bring him the next time he’s sick.
Have a conversation and plan a reward. Some children can’t keep from crying, but you can help them refrain from dramatic overreaction. Let them know what is going to happen, and that you expect them to be kind and behave appropriately for their age. A promised reward can help—a bike ride with you, a favorite dessert, a play date with a friend.
Getting a shot isn’t fun, but with some assistance from you, we’ll make the experience as painless as possible for all concerned!
A new study has pediatricians (including us) rethinking previous recommendations about acetaminophen and vaccinations.
Often, children get a slight fever after a vaccination. This is a normal response of the immune system, reacting to the presence of something new in the body. Physicians have long recommended taking acetaminophen before, and every four hours for the first 24 after a vaccination to prevent or reduce fever and make the child more comfortable.
The study, reported in The Lancet, finds that giving acetaminophen does indeed decrease fever after the vaccination. But there was an unexpected finding: acetaminophen appears also to reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine.
More studies are required, and the reasons behind this lowered effectiveness are not fully understood. However, for now we believe it is best NOT to give doses of acetaminophen right before or within the first 24 hours after the vaccine. If, though, your child exhibits a fever of 101º or above, or experiences soreness, then it’s okay to give a small amount to ease those symptoms.
Speaking of amounts, Tylenol and other makers/distributors of acetaminophen have recently changed the concentration of their product for infants. It’s now the SAME as the concentration for children, but the dosage is of course smaller. So be sure not to use a medicine dropper from an old infant Tylenol bottle with the new infant Tylenol concentration.
Always check dosing instructions on any over the counter medication.
Stay healthy, and don’t forget to keep your immunizations up to date!