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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!

It’s Never Too Early!

It may seem a little early to start talking about the flu, but there are recent publications providing important preliminary recommendations for the upcoming flu season.  Notable is the recommendation that live attenuated influenza virus (LAIV) vaccine (i.e. Flumist) NOT be used for the 2017-18 season so prepare your children for injectable flu vaccine only! This is doubtful to change when final guidelines from the CDC come out later this summer. According to the CDC there were 99 pediatric deaths due to influenza this past season. That’s 99 too many in my opinion! KPA is already preparing for the 2017-18 influenza season and will let you know soon when we’ll begin flu shots. Click here to link to an important article from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
 

BOO to the Flu!

Well, it’s here, no doubt about it. The dreaded FLU! All around Knoxville and surrounding counties, schools are closing due to illness in both the students and the teachers. Here is a little information on the facts of the flu…

  • Influenza (“the flu”) is a VIRAL illness.
  • Symptoms may include: fever, cough, headache and or body aches, sore throat, runny nose, congestion, redness and watering of the eyes, and occasional vomiting and abdominal pain.
  • Influenza IS NOT “ the stomach bug” … although many kids’ first sign is vomiting.
  • The flu can be contagious for up to 1 – 2 DAYS BEFORE SYMPTOMS START and for several days after the onset of symptoms.
  • Prevention from the flu includes receiving a yearly flu vaccine, hand washing and avoiding contact when possible with those infected with the flu.
  • The flu is spread from person to person thru contact with respiratory secretions. It can also be spread by coming in contact with those secretions on objects.
  • There is a test to determine if you have the flu. This test is done thru a nasal swab and usually can be done in the outpatient office within 10 minutes. A flu test is not always required as a doctor may determine the diagnosis by physical exam.
  • Most people with the flu have a mild self-limited, uncomplicated disease. Treatment would include rest, lots of fluids and tylenol or ibuprofen for fever or aches.
  • Certain groups of people may be at risk for more serious complications. This group includes those that have a weakened immune system, have chronic lung disease, those that have diabetes, possibly those with a neurological problems, and the very young.
  • Some children with the flu may be prescribed an antiviral called tamiflu. It does NOT treat the flu and is not required . It may shorten the duration of symptoms. It should be started within 48 hours of the onset of the illness.
  • We typically do not give “prevention” from the flu thru tamiflu unless the child is in at “at risk” population.
  • If your child has the flu and has: worsening fever or pain, lethargy, unable to keep fluids down or if you have any concern, please call your pediatrician for further evaluation.

 

Important News: FluMist Not Recommended for the 2016-2017 Influenza Season

In June 2016, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) made recommendations that, due to poor effectiveness of the live-attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV, FluMist), practices should not use that form of the vaccine for the 2016-17 influenza season and should only use the injectable form, which continues to demonstrate effectiveness.  The following link is an article from AAP News. 

http://www.aappublications.org/news/2016/06/22/InfluenzaVaccine062216 

All KPA offices will only have the injectable form of the flu vaccine in stock for this flu season. Knox County Schools, in conjunction with the Knox County Health Department, are aware of the current recommendations and are working on “how to best move forward” with their in-school vaccination program.  Stay tuned for updates on the Knox Co. Schools flu vaccination program. KPA is planning on having enough injectable flu vaccine stocked at each of its five offices for our patients! Plan on scheduling your child/children for their flu shots beginning this fall.