It’s Not Too Late for Influenza (Flu) Vaccination

Per a December 28, 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP) alert, “Flu activity is increasing in the United States.  There have already been 8 pediatric deaths from influenza reported.  Vaccination is the most important step anyone can take to protect themselves and their loved ones against influenza and its complications.  It takes about two weeks after vaccination for immunity to develop in the body that protects against influenza infection.”

Children younger than 5 years of age, especially children younger than 2, are at an increased risk of hospitalization and complications due to influenza.  ​Therefore, the AAP and CDC recommend that all children 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine each year.  Pregnant women should also receive the influenza vaccine at any time during their pregnancy to protect themselves as well as their young infants during the first 6 months of life.

Since the flu vaccine isn’t 100% effective,  it’s important to take precautions to decrease the risk of infection.  These measure include frequent hand washing with soap and water and avoidance of crowds.

Two other recent articles related to vaccines worth reading are “Why Vaccines Matter in the November 2017 edition of National Geographic magazine” and “Simply Put:  Vaccination Saves Lives in the Autumn 2017 edition of Emory Health Digest.

Here’s to a Happy and Healthy 2018!

Cold Weather Problems

With the extreme weather we have had and will have this January, it’s important to keep in mind the dangers of very cold weather. Here are a couple:

FROSTBITE

Frostbite is the freezing of tissue.  It is caused by exposure to cold weather and is influenced by the degree of cold and length of time the tissue is exposed.  Cold water and cold surfaces can speed frostbite as well. Touching metal at 5 degrees F can cause frostbite in seconds. Crystals form in tissue and cells causing decreased blood perfusion, cell death and subsequent inflammation. The extent of the frostbite depends on how deep the freezing goes.  Initially fingers are red. They may be blistered. Tissue may progress to blue/purple and then black. What do you do if someone has frostbite? Get the person to a medical facility as quickly as possible.  Get the victim to a warm environment.  Take off wet clothes. Rewarm the affected area by placing in warm water only if you are sure it will not refreeze.  Refreezing causes more damage. Do not rub the area as this can also cause more damage. Do not use flames or stoves which can burn. There is no sensation in frostbitten tissue and burns can occur more easily.

HYPOTHERMIA

Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees. Initially there is shivering, abnormal breathing, paleness, loss of coordination, and impaired judgment.  As their temperature drops more, there is altered mental status and then loss of consciousness.  These people need to be warmed quickly.  Get to a warm environment. Give warm liquids. Use thermal blankets. Try to warm their core with warm water bottles. Transport to a medical facility as quickly as possible. Prevention is the best thing. Wear warm clothes with lots of loose layers.  Wear a hat and gloves.  Drink lots of liquids.  No caffeine or alcohol.  Limit your time in the cold.  Never go out in the cold alone!

Winter weather can be a lot of fun, but be safe and be prepared and please call your pediatrician’s office if you have questions.