2017/2018 FLU VACCINE INFO
Here is everything that you need to know about the Flu Vaccine for the upcoming 2017/2018 season:
Some flu seasons are worse than others. I can still remember in 2009 when the H1N1 swept through. Healthy people were dying. It was terrifying. We need to remember that the flu is one of the deadliest vaccine-preventable childhood diseases. Each year, influenza kills more children in the United States than meningococcal infection and whooping cough combined. Just two years ago in the 2015/16 season, 26,000 children were hospitalized with flu related symptoms. Between October and April, on average, 15 children died every month. Sixty percent of the children who died were otherwise healthy with no known underlying medical conditions. Eighty percent of the children who died from the flu were not vaccinated. Despite the severity of influenza in children, immunization rates are lower than those for other vaccine-preventable diseases.
Infants can’t get the shot until they are 6 months old. If you have a baby at home who is too young to get the shot, please make sure that all the household contacts are protected so that you don’t bring the virus home. It is recommended that all children over the age of 6 months get the flu protection. Children, especially those younger than 5 years, are at higher risk for serious flu-related complications. Folks of any age with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system also are at high risk of serious flu complications.
Children under the age of nine, who are getting the flu vaccine for the very first time, need to receive two doses of the vaccine in order to be considered fully protected. The first dose “primes” the immune system; the second dose provides immune protection.The two doses need to be separated by at least four weeks. Over the years I have seen patients who have had only their first shot come down with the flu. One will not fully protect them.
If your child has ever had more than two previous doses of any flu vaccine, they only need one this year. It takes about 2 weeks for the shot to take effect. Children under the age of three get half of the adult dose. The nasal flu mist is not available for the second year in a row.
Every year the disease trackers do the best they can to predict which strains of the virus will circulate and try to match the flu vaccine to the anticipated strain. Although there have been some seasons recently where it was unchanged, typically the vaccine changes from year to year. This year's vaccine is not the same as last seasons. Some years have better matches than others. Let's keep our fingers crossed that this year has the magic combination. Our office will again be supplied with the quadrivalent vaccine that covers two A strains and two B strains. All of the flu vaccine in our office is preservative free. For any of you interested, the strains in the quadrivalent vaccine for the 2017/18 season are:
A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1) pdm-09-like virus,
A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus
There is a trivalent vaccine available in many pharmacies that doesn’t contain the B/Phuket. (I guess they said Phuket? Sorry I couldn’t resist)
You never know if that extra B strain is going to be an important player so get the quadrivalent if you have the option.
Last season the flu cases started showing up fairly late. We didn’t start to see it in earnest until late January. Plenty of people did get the flu and had a miserable week, but no one in our practice had any severe complications. There were some vaccine failures but the folks who had the flu shot did not seem to be nearly as ill as an unvaccinated person.
Since we never really know when the flu season will start with a vengeance, getting your child vaccinated early in the season is your best bet. The manufacturers claim that the protection is supposed to last through the entire season. My personal sense is that it does seems to loose it's oomph after 7 months or so. As soon as a baby turns 6 months old we can get them started with their first dose. Because we don’t have experience with this particular flu vaccine, I don’t have a sense of what kinds of reactions to expect. We don’t generally see any major reactions but every year it is different. Last year some of our patients had low grade fevers for a day or two, but for the most part the vaccine was tolerated very well. A day or two of fever is still better than a full-blown case of the flu.
If your child has a sensitivity to egg, it is okay to give the shot, but we want to be cautious. I would recommend that you keep the patient hanging around the office for at least half an hour or so to make sure they aren’t having any issues. Please advise the nursing staff if you have any concerns. I have been giving flu shots for almost 30 years and in that time I have only seen ONE patient with an allergic reaction to the vaccine (and that patient has no history of egg intolerance, so you just never know.) This patient left the office and started complaining about an itchy feeling throat. Mom brought him right back in and he got a dose of epinephrine. I am sharing that as a reminder that it is important to keep a close eye on your child for at least 30 minutes after the shot. If they seem to be having any breathing issues or exceptional fussiness they should get checked out immediately (an emergency room is the best choice.)
In past years there have been delays and shortages with the supply, but so far everything seems like it will be smooth this season. We have already received our first shipment of the vaccines. For Noe Valley Pediatrics patients we will be having flu shot clinics starting . The clinics will be , and from and then from . Call the same day to get on the list. Please understand we can only manage a set number of patients on any given day. Flu shot appointments are for shots only. If you have a reason to see the doctor, it is important to have an appointment on the main schedule. I tell parents that “we can add a shot to any doctor appointment, but we can’t add a doctor to a shot appointment.” We will be holding several evening flu shot clinics throughout the season.The next evening clinics will be October 18th and November 1st. Both of these are Wednesday evenings from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm Families are welcome to the evening clinics.
When you come for a shot appointment, it is helpful if your child is wearing short sleeves or clothes that will allow us easy access. If your child is especially fearful of shots, let us know in advance and we can schedule a longer visit for them. We can offer ice packs or numbing cream by request. There is a $5 charge for the cream. Plan in advance. This needs to be applied 20-30 minutes before the injection.
We are happy to immunize parents as well, but this will be an out of pocket $40 charge. We will not be billing your insurance. We can give you a bill that you can submit on your own.
I will update vaccine supply and any info about the clinic dates in my weekly emails and also on our Facebook page. I will also let you know what type of reactions I am seeing, and what the actual flu looks like when it starts knocking on the door this season.
Click below for the 2017 Flu Vaccine information statements from the CDC.
This is the same statement that has been active since 2015. They did not feel that there were any significant changes to report.