Monday, October 10th, 2011
A study published today in the journal Pediatrics reports that a single dose of the seasonal flu vaccine, which includes protection against the pandemic H1N1 strain, can significantly lower hospitalization rates for children between the ages of 6 months and 9 years.
Young children are typically given a two-dose vaccine against flu, because their immune systems can better metabolize two pediatric doses given 30 days apart.
But the study, conducted in Canada using hospitalization and vaccination records from the 2009 flu season, found that even one pediatric dose of vaccine was found to be 85 percent effective in preventing flu, as soon as 10-14 days after the dose was administered. Different ages were protected at different rates after the single dose, with 6-23-month-olds having the highest level of protection, 92 percent.
The World Health Organization has officially declared an end to the H1N1 pandemic, though the strain will continue to circulate for years to come. The WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge everyone over 6 months of age to receive a flu vaccine and follow good sanitary practices such as frequent hand-washing and covering nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.
Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
Health officials say four children were infected with a new strain of swine flu, MSNBC.com reports.
All four children, three girls and one boy, have recovered or are recovering, and were infected through contact with pigs. The virus does not appear to spread easily from person to person, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say.
MSNBC.com gave these details about symptoms in two of the children:
In July, the boy was taken to a hospital emergency department with flulike symptoms of fever, cough and diarrhea, where a respiratory test confirmed influenza A (H3). The boy, who has multiple chronic health conditions, was briefly hospitalized. He had not been directly exposed to swine but a caretaker had been in direct contact with swine in the weeks before the boy became ill.
In August, [one of the girls] was also taken to a hospital emergency department with similar symptoms and discharged. A few days before she became sick with a fever, cough and lethargy, she reportedly visited an agricultural fair where she was exposed to swine.
This brand-new flu strain picked up a gene from the H1N1 strain that set off the flu pandemic in 2009 and 2010. Gene sharing among flu viruses is common, and causes problems when it creates novel strains to which people lack immunity, The Washington Post explained.
The new swine flu is unlikely to trigger a pandemic the way H1N1 did, experts say. CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told MSNBC.com, “There’s no evidence of sustained transmission from human to human.”
MSNBC also reported that in the first two cases, both children received flu vaccines in September 2010, which protected them against H1N1, but wouldn’t protect against the new virus.
(image via: http://www.drtalented.com)
Friday, August 19th, 2011
This flu season, which begins in October, will see a higher supply of flu vaccines than in recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told CNN.com this week. Last year, 157 million doses were produced. This year, 166 million doses will be made, with the hope that more people will get the vaccine if it’s more readily available.
The new vaccine will immunize against the same strains of flu as last year’s, including the H1N1 virus known as “swine flu.” The CDC recommends that all Americans older than six months of age receive a vaccine every year. The vaccine is typically offered as a single dose, though young children between the ages of six months and eight years old who have never been vaccinated against the flu, or whose vaccination status is unknown, require a second “booster” dose of the vaccine four weeks later.
A CDC official told CNN that an estimated 41 percent of Americans received the vaccine last year, including 49 percent of pregnant women.
(image via: http://www.neighborhood-kids.com)