Thursday, September 18th, 2014
With flu season just around the corner, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases held a press conference today urging everyone older than 6 months of age to get a vaccine this season.
While flu vaccination levels are up overall in the past few years, they’re not at the levels health officials want them to be, the NFID reports. But the good news is that 70 percent of kids under age 5 received a flu vaccine in the 2013-2014 season. (The flu can cause serious complications even in kids and adults who are considered otherwise “healthy,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
“Influenza vaccines are safe, plentiful and we have more vaccine options than ever before,” Dr. William Schaffner, past-president of NFID, said in a statement. “At least one is right for everyone.”
This press conference comes after a CDC recommendation last month that healthy kids ages 2-8 receive the nasal spray vaccine (pictured above) if it’s immediately available and there are no precautions for the specific child. (If it’s not available, don’t shop around—officials stress that getting any form of the vaccination is better than nothing.) It’s also important for kids younger than 9 to get vaccinated because some might need a second dose four weeks later to have “optimal protection,” the CDC stated in a press release.
Pregnant women are especially encouraged to get a vaccine because catching the flu “doubles the risk of fetal death, increases the risk of premature labor and increases the mother’s risk of hospitalization,” according to the NFID. And, the vaccine offers protection against flu to babies who are too young to get vaccinated.
In addition to the vaccination, it is still important to maintain proper hygiene and prevention practices like frequent hand washing, avoiding those who are sick, and staying home when you’re sick.
Have you and your children gotten vaccinated yet? If you’re on the fence about it, check out the four biggest flu myths and, if you’re not sure what kind of vaccine is appropriate for you or your family, always remember to consult your healthcare provider with any questions.
Photo of child receiving flu vaccination courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Friday, June 27th, 2014
Believe it or not, flu season isn’t as far away as it seems, and now there’s good news for kids who hate getting an annual flu shot (and that would be all of them, right?): According to experts from the Centers for Disease Control, the nasal spray version of the flu vaccine is better at preventing the illness in kids ages 2 to 8. More from Time:
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of experts that makes recommendations to the Centers for Disease Control for which vaccines children and adults should get, voted to recommend the spray over the shot late Wednesday. The panel said studies show children who had the spray are half as likely to get the flu as those who had the shot.
So far, there is only one nasal spray flu vaccine available — AstraZeneca’s FluMist, which was approved in 2003 for people ages 2 to 49.
The spray differs from the needle-based vaccine in another important way — it’s made from a live, weakened influenza virus, while the shot drums up an immune response using killed virus. Studies have shown the spray can lead to a stronger immune response in children who have not had the flu before, but the same may not hold true for adults.
Of course, it’s important to note that the nasal spray version of the vaccine isn’t recommended for all kids (or adults, for that matter), so ask your pediatrician which version of the vaccine is best for your child.
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Monday, December 30th, 2013
Dreonna Breton, a Pennsylvania nurse, is alleging that she was fired from her job after refusing a flu shot because of concerns that the vaccine would cause her to suffer a miscarriage. CNN.com has more on the story, which emerged even as a growing number of states are reporting widespread flu activity to the CDC:
“I’m a healthy person. I take care of my body. For me, the potential risk was not worth it,” Dreonna Breton told CNN Sunday. “I’m not gonna be the one percent of people that has a problem.”
Breton, 29, worked as a nurse at Horizons Healthcare Services in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, when she was told that all employees were required to get a flu shot. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention advises that all health care professionals get vaccinated annually.
She told her employers that she would not get the vaccine after she explained that there were very limited studies of the effects on pregnant women.
Breton came to the decision with her family after three miscarriages.
The mother of one submitted letters from her obstetrician and primary care doctor supporting her decision, but she was told that she would be fired on December 17 if she did not receive the vaccine before then.
Horizons Healthcare Services spokesman Alan Peterson told CNN affiliate WPVI that it’s unconscionable for a health care worker not to be immunized and that pregnant women are more susceptible to the flu.
The CDC website states that getting a flu shot while pregnant is the best protection for pregnant women and their babies.
Image: Pregnant woman about to get vaccine, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
Flu season may still feel far away as summer-like temperatures are still felt over much of the country. But the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an advisory this week urging parents to get their children–and themselves–immunized against the flu as soon as possible to achieve the maximum protection when the season begins in earnest. More from NBC News:
There are some new vaccines on the market and while some of the newer ones might appear better, it’s not worth waiting for one, the American Academy of Pediatrics said in an advisory.
“With the exception of children less than 6 months of age, everybody should go out and get their influenza vaccine as soon as the influenza vaccines are available,” Dr. Michael Brady of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and chairman of the Committee on Infectious Diseases for the Academy told NBC News.
“Parents should not delay vaccinating their children to obtain a specific vaccine,” added pediatrician Dr. Henry Bernstein of the Hofstra North Shore – Long Island Jewish Health System in New York, who led the team writing the recommendations.
“Influenza virus is unpredictable, and what’s most important is that people receive the vaccine soon, so that they will be protected when the virus begins circulating.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that anywhere between 3,000 to 49,000 people a year die from flu in the United States, and up to 200,000 are sick enough to be hospitalized. A lot depends on the strains circulating. During last year’s flu season, 160 children died from flu.
Image: Child getting a shot, via Shutterstock
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Monday, March 25th, 2013
The seasonal flu claimed the lives of 105 children, almost none of whom receives their annual flu vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting. That figure is more than triple the usual number of children who die from seasonal flu, according to NBCNews.com:
“We are getting close to the end of the flu season now but it’s not over,” says CDC flu expert Dr. Michael Jhung.
Deaths from flu and pneumonia are “barely” above the annual level designated as “epidemic”, he said. “We get an epidemic of flu every year,” Jhung added in a telephone interview. “It’s just the flu season. We assign the name epidemic to it.”
Officials reported that six children died of flu last week, the CDC said. That brings the total to 105 for this season, compared to 34 last year. But in the 2010-2011 flu season 122 died, and when the H1N1 swine flu pandemic hit in 2009-2010, it killed 282 U.S. children.
Most of the children who died – 90 percent of them – had not been vaccinated against flu.
This may be confusing, as CDC had reported that the flu vaccine was not especially effective in those most at risk from flu – the elderly. But Jhung says it protects children pretty well.
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