Monday, August 14, 2017

The flu vaccine has arrived!

     The influenza vaccine ("flu shot") has arrived for the 2017-2018 season. We received hundreds of doses. We will receive further doses in the future months.
     There are 4 strains of influenza in the vaccine and one is a new strain this year. Each year, scientists predict what strains are most likely to be in the communities for the coming season. For the '16-'17 season, the protection was only fair. On average, for every year like last year, we will have two years where the protection is much better.
     We agree with the recommendation that all children 6 months and above routinely receive the vaccine each year. This provides the best protection against influenza and it's complications, including dehydration and pneumonia.
     The only influenza vaccine we will stock this year is the flu shot. Although the "flu mist" is back on the market after concerns about its effectiveness, we want to make sure that it provides equal or better protection versus the flu shot before potentially recommending it in the future.
     Although the flu shot contains a small amount of chicken egg protein, the majority of egg-allergic patients can safely receive the flu shot. If a child has a history of anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) to eggs, we should further discuss the issue. Some of these patients will see the allergist to receive the vaccine at their office.
     For those patients receiving the vaccine for the first time AND before their 9th birthday, two doses of the vaccine are needed one month apart. This supplies them with the best protection for that season. All other children need one dose each year.
     The flu shot cannot "give you the flu". In other words, if you or your child felt ill soon after receiving the vaccine, it was just a coincidence. Mild local reactions including soreness, redness, or swelling at the site are common. Less common are fever, achiness, headache, or nauseousness.
     We will soon schedule walk-in flu shot clinics. These have typically been scheduled on select Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings in the Fall. We will announce on our Facebook page and on our website ( when we know the schedule.
     One thing we are often asked about: Is my child too sick to receive the flu vaccine? The answer is "It depends". Mild cold and coughs, mild diarrhea, and low grade temperatures 100.4 degrees and below are not reason to postpone the vaccine. In fact, it has been shown that it is still safe and effective to receive the vaccine if someone has active asthma or croup and will need a steroid -or- has recently been on a steroid.

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