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Flu Vaccination News

girl getting vaccination


Seasonal flu vaccines include H1N1 strains: Doctors anticipate H1N1 may still be circulating during the fall and winter months, but a new flu vaccination formula means, for the most part, you and your little ones will only each need one flu shot. However, as of 2011, the same flu vaccination formula from 2010 is being administered -- making it the fourth time in the past 25 years that the formula hasn't changed in at least one of the vaccine strains.

Everyone over the age of 6 months should get the vaccine: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends an annual flu shot for everyone over 6 months old (in 2009 the vaccine was only recommended for children under 18, adults over 49, and those at special risk because of a medical condition). All pregnant women are also now recommended to have the vaccine, regardless of what trimester they are in. Even if you have received both the seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 vaccine before, receiving a new vaccine is recommended since immunity decreases over time (fading significantly after six to eight months) and each year's shot includes protection against a new strain. As mentioned above, the strain available for 2011 is the still the same as 2010.

More shots at school: Don't be surprised if your child's school asks for your permission to immunize. 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. School clinics save doctors' offices from having to coordinate thousands of vaccines, and help reach children who otherwise wouldn't be vaccinated and protected.

Tougher Tamiflu guidelines: No matter how much you may beg may beg your doctor, physicians have been advised not to administer children an antiviral medication just to make sure they are healthy for your Disney vacation next week. Overuse of the drug could cause flu viruses to become resistant to the medication. The CDC dictates that top priority for Tamiflu prescriptions 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, parents with an infant under 6 months old, and anyone who's hospitalized with the flu. If you think your child may need an antiviral, visit your doctor within 48 hours of the virus' inception -- that's when Tamiflu is most effective. FYI: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns the "generic" Tamiflu sold by unscrupulous online drugstores is unauthentic -- call or visit your doctor for medication needs.

Originally published in the November 2010 issue of Parents magazine. Reviewed and updated in December 2011.

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