Posts Tagged ‘ flu ’

Must-Read Now: The AAP Updates Its Vaccine Schedule

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Vaccine calender scheduleThe American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released an updated vaccine schedule for babies and older kids.

The 2015 recommended childhood and adolescence immunization schedules comes at a time when the AAP is urging parents to vaccinate their kids against measles due to the current outbreak (which has increased to over 70 confirmed cases).

Changes to the vaccination schedule include new columns for:

  • giving babies traveling outside the U.S. a first dose of the MMR vaccine (for measles) between 6 and 11 months
  • giving kids the flu vaccine starting at age 2, with some kids needing double doses between ages 2 and 8
  • indicating double doses are no longer needed for kids ages 9 to 10

Footnotes included on the schedules have also been updated, including one about the meningococcal vaccine (for meningitis), which clarifies proper and safe dosing for high-risk babies.

The MMR vaccine update is important to note, as babies should only get two doses, the first between 12 and 15 months and the second between 4 and 6 years. But an exception is now being made for babies between 6 and 11 months who are traveling outside the country; they should be receiving three doses (the first before 12 months, the second between 12 and 15 months, the third about four weeks after the second dose).

For kids older than 12 months traveling outside the country, they should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine, the first one between 12 and 15 months and the second one about four weeks later.

See the complete updates to the AAP vaccine schedules here.

More About Measles

The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea

Image: Calender with “vaccine” notation via Shutterstock

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The Flu Is Now an Epidemic, Says CDC

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

girl getting flu shotThis flu season is so bad that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has officially classified the illness as an epidemic, reports ABC News. This year’s strain of the virus, H3N2, has already proven to be deadly. Fifteen children have died from flu complications, and hospitalizations are on the rise, especially among seniors and young children.

So far, Tennessee has been hit the hardest from the flu outbreak. At least six children in that state have died from the illness, and East Tennessee Children’s Hospital has seen 442 children with flu symptoms in this month alone. The most-affected states are in the South, Midwest, and West. However, everyone is at risk of contracting the flu. Twenty-two states are reporting high levels of  ”‘influenza-like’ illness activity,” and every region of the country has suffered from outbreaks. Every season, the flu can be deadly for children and the elderly. “Every year about a hundred children die from the flu,” says ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser. The flu season has been starting earlier and earlier, he added, which is a worrisome trend.

If you or your child hasn’t gotten the flu shot yet, it’s not too late. Even though the current vaccine hasn’t been a very strong defense against this year’s severe subtype of the flu, it can still help. “Get a flu shot. It doesn’t matter what kind of flu is going around, if you get a flu shot you do have protection against the strains of flu that is in the shot, and if you get a case of the flu it is usually not as bad,” advises East Tennessee Children’s Hospital Director of Infection Control Darci Hodge. Something to keep in mind: children under the age of 8 may require two doses of the vaccine at least 28 days apart to get the maximum protection from the shots.

How Safe is the Flu Vaccine?
How Safe is the Flu Vaccine?
How Safe is the Flu Vaccine?

Image via Shutterstock

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CDC: Nasal Flu Spray Is More Effective for Young Kids

Friday, June 27th, 2014

nasal sprayBelieve 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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Tamiflu’s Effectiveness Questioned in New Study

Monday, April 14th, 2014

The antiviral medication Tamiflu may not be any more effective than other methods of treating influenza, or flu viruses, according to a new study published in the journal BMJ.  More from Time.com:

There isn’t strong evidence to support stockpiling the products in national emergency drug depots in case of a pandemic, the researchers say. Both drugs—Tamiflu is the brand name for oseltamivir and Relenza is the brand name zanamivir—are designed to stop the influenza virus from spreading in an infected person, and claim to reduce the severity of flu symptoms and how long people are sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps the drugs in its stockpile for use in both seasonal and pandemic flu situations, and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organization also recommend the medications for treating flu.

The authors of the current review found, however, that in the case of the European approvals in particular, regulatory agencies relied on summaries of studies rather than an exhaustive analysis of raw data, known as clinical study reports, which can run to more than 1,000 pages and detail methods, protocols and statistical analyses.

After a four-year effort to obtain this data from both the manufacturers and the EMA, the authors report in the journal BMJ that those trials do not support claims that the drugs lower the risk of complications from flu, such as pneumonia, or that the benefits of the drugs outweigh their risks, which include nausea, vomiting, headaches and kidney disorders.

The authors point to not just one failure in the process of approving these medications, but a weak regulatory system in which the studies are all conducted by manufacturers, and in which the trials compared the medications against placebo rather than to existing flu treatments.

Image: Woman sick with flu, via Shutterstock

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Well-Child Doctor’s Visits Linked with Increased Flu Risk

Friday, February 14th, 2014

A new study has linked routine well-child visits–which are advised and recommended at least on an annual basis–with an increased risk that children will be exposed to flu or flu-like germs in the waiting or examination rooms.  The study, published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, emphasized that the findings, which translate to more than 700,000 potentially avoidable illnesses and a $492 million pricetag each year, underscore the importance that doctor’s offices follow existing infection control guidelines.

“Well child visits are critically important. However, our results demonstrate that healthcare professionals should devote more attention to reducing the risk of spreading infections in waiting rooms and clinics. Infection control guidelines currently exist. To increase patient safety in outpatient settings, more attention should be paid to these guidelines by healthcare professionals, patients, and their families,” said Phil Polgreen, MD, MPH, lead author of the study, in a statement.

Researchers from the University of Iowa used data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to examine the healthcare trends of 84,595 families collected from 1996-2008. Included in the analysis were demographic, office-based, emergency room, and outpatient cases records. After controlling for factors, such as the presence of other children, insurance, and demographics, the authors found that well-child visits for children younger than six years old increased the probability of a flu-like illness in these children or their families during the subsequent two weeks by 3.2 percentage points.

This incremental risk could amount to more than 700,000 avoidable cases of flu-like illness each year and $492 million in direct and indirect costs, based on established estimates for outpatient influenza.

In a commentary accompanying the study, Lisa Saiman, MD, notes, “The true cost of flu-like illnesses are much higher since only a fraction result in ambulatory visits and many more cases are likely to result in missed work or school days. Furthermore, these flu-like illness visits are associated with inappropriate antimicrobial use.”

The authors stress the importance of infection prevention and control in ambulatory settings, suggesting pediatric clinics follow recommended guidelines that include improving environmental cleaning, cough etiquette, and hand hygiene compliance.

“Even with interventions, such as the restricted use of communal toys or separate sick and well-child waiting areas, if hand-hygiene compliance is poor, and potentially infectious patients are not wearing masks, preventable infections will continue to occur,” said Polgreen.

Is your kid too sick to go to school? Take our quiz to find out.

When to Worry: Coughs & Colds
When to Worry: Coughs & Colds
When to Worry: Coughs & Colds

Image: Pediatrician’s office, via Shutterstock

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