Thursday, December 18, 2014

The flu season is here! Is your family vaccinated?

Learn more about the basics of flu vaccination.

The flu season is here! Is your family vaccinated?

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Influenza immunization season is here. Between mid-September and New Years’ Day is the prime time to attempt to prevent the flu. People have more myths about “flu shots” than about almost any other medical procedure and certainly more than any other pediatric treatment.  The “flu shot,” which is killed vaccine, has been shown in carefully controlled studies to cause almost no side effects.  Some people (less than 30 percent) do get a very sore arm for a few days, but that is about it. 

Many people will tell you that I got a flu shot and “it made me sick, I had the flu ” because immunization is given during the time when the most people get ill from other viruses. When compared to a similar group who did not take the influenza immunization, there was absolutely no increase in illness in the vaccinated group.  But this time of year, we get primarily ill a lot from our loved ones such as our children in school and when you get ill near when you get a shot, you blame it on the shot. 

Flumist, the nasal influenza vaccine, is also very safe, but it will very rarely give the vaccinee a mild case of the flu since it is a live vaccine.  This is very uncommon, but does happen.  Since it is a live vaccine, it is not recommended in patients with asthma or if someone who is immune-suppressed, such as someone on cancer chemotherapy,  is living in the same house. The advantage of nasal flu over killed flu vaccination is that there is no shot in nasal flu.

More importantly, people do not think it is important to prevent influenza.  Influenza is, with its sequel of bacterial pneumonia, a major cause of death in people over 70.  The older one gets, the more fatal it gets. A recent report in Pediatrics also showed that at least 830 children died directly of influenza from Fall 2004 to Spring 2012 in the United States. Over 40 percent of these death occurred in children without any chronic medical condition and 1/3 died so quickly they never saw a doctor.

The current advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control is that every child from 6 months to 18 years receive an influenza immunization every year. In children 9 years and under, they should receive 2 shots the first year to guarantee an immune response.

Immunizations protect the general population not just the person getting the vaccine.  If your child is under 6 months, make sure everyone in the house gets vaccinated. If you are unlikely to get influenza so is your baby.


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The Healthy Kids blog is your window into the latest news, research and advice around children's health. Learn more about our growing list of contributors here.

If you have questions about your child's health, ask them here.

Anna Nguyen Healthy Kids blog Editor
Sarah Levin Allen, Ph.D., CBIS Assistant Professor of Psychology at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A. Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Temple University Hospital
Peter Bidey, D.O. Medical Director of Family Medicine at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Christopher C. Chang, MD, PhD, MBA, FAAAAI, FACAAI Associate Professor of Medicine in division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology at UC Davis
Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D. Lead Psychologist of The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Gary A. Emmett, M.D., F.A.A.P Director of Hospital Pediatrics at TJU Hospital & Pediatrics Professor at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
Mario Cruz, M.D. Pediatrician, Associate Director of Pediatric Residency Program at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children
Magee DeFelice, M.D. Division Chief of Allergy and Immunology at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Hazel Guinto-Ocampo, M.D. Chief of Pediatric Emergency Services at Nemours duPont Pediatrics/Bryn Mawr Hospital
Rima Himelstein, M.D. Adolescent Medicine Specialist at Crozer-Keystone Health System
Jessica Kendorski, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D Associate Professor in School Psychology/Applied Behavior Analysis at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Anita Kulick President & CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting
Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA VP for Programs & Research for Prevent Child Abuse America
Beth Wallace Smith, R.D. Registered Dietitian at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Jeanette Trella Managing Director at The Poison Control Center at CHOP
W. Douglas Tynan, Ph.D., ABPP Director of Integrated Health Care for American Psychological Association
Flaura Koplin Winston, M.D., Ph.D. Scientific Director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention
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