The annual flu vaccine now includes H1N1.
This means you can go back to getting just one flu vaccine for you and your little ones. The only exception? Kids under age 9 who haven't had a seasonal flu vaccination before or didn't get the H1N1 vaccine in 2009. They need two doses of the combined vaccine, four weeks apart.
Virtually everyone should be vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s annual flu vaccine advice includes everyone over 6 months old. Until now, the vaccine had been recommended only for kids under 18, adults over 49, and those at special risk because of a medical condition and their caregivers.
Schools offer the vaccine.
Don't be surprised if your child?s school asks for your permission to immunize him. In 2009, three of the four states with the highest children's H1N1 vaccination rates (Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont) had school-based vaccination programs. The clinics save doctors' offices from having to coordinate thousands of vaccines and help reach children who otherwise wouldn't be protected.
It's tougher to get Tamiflu.
Because overuse of the antiviral drug could cause the virus to become resistant to it, the CDC says top priority will go to sick children under age 2 (down from age 5 at the beginning of the 2009 flu season), pregnant women, adults over 65, those with a medical condition that puts them at risk, and anyone who's hospitalized with the flu. Doctors will also treat you if you have a baby under 6 months old. If you think your child may need an antiviral, try to be seen within 48 hours because that?s when it's most effective.
Originally published in the November 2010 issue of Parents magazine.
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