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Your Child

Nicotine Poisoning in Young Children Skyrockets 1,500% in 3 years

2:00

In the last 3 years, there has been an astonishing increase in calls to poison control centers from caregivers and parents of children who have or might have been exposed to liquid nicotine.

From 2012 -2014, accidental exposures to e-cigarettes by children under the age of 6 increased by about 1,500 % according to researchers analyzing nicotine and tobacco product poison control calls.

Children with accidental exposures to e-cigarette liquids were more than five times more likely to be admitted to a medical facility than those exposed to traditional cigarettes and more than twice as likely to have severe medical outcomes, wrote researcher Gary A. Smith, MD, of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Center for Injury Research and Policy in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues. Their study was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

"These are not trivial exposures. There were comas, seizures, and even one death in the 40-month period we studied, and these exposures were predictable and preventable," Smith told MedPage Today. "E-cigarettes and vaping liquids are products that should never have entered the market without adequate consideration of the harms they could cause to young children."

Not only are children becoming seriously ill because of accidental nicotine poisoning, but children have died from it.

"One death to a 1-year-old child occurred associated with nicotine liquid accessed from an open refill container," the researchers wrote. "Children exposed to e-cigarettes or other tobacco products had higher odds of having a severe outcome than children exposed to cigarettes."

Nicotine is a toxic substance that can cause convulsions, coma, vomiting, irregular heart rhythms, weakness and even death. Before the availability of e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine, acute nicotine poisoning usually occurred in young children who accidentally chewed on nicotine gum or patches.

The study comes right after two new initiatives have been established to put the brakes on nicotine poisoning in children.

The Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act will take effect this summer and will require child-resistant packaging on liquid nicotine containers.

Also, the Food and Drug Administration released long-awaited rules last week, requiring e-cigarette companies to undergo federal review to stay on the market and add health warnings to their products. The new regulations, which take effect in August, also ban the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.

Many health officials are upset that the FDA has taken so long to address the dangers of nicotine poisoning in young children.

"Liquid nicotine is another example of a highly toxic product that was put into the marketplace without consideration for safety of children," Smith said. "It's as if we're treating our children as canaries in the coal mine. We wait until there's a dramatic event and then do something."

Smith also acknowledged that many parents might not know just how dangerous these products can be for children. "Even a relatively small dose, which may not cause many effects in adults, can cause major effects in kids."

If you suspect that your child has ingested nicotine, experts recommend that you NOT induce vomiting, but call poison control at 800-222-1222 or that you call 9-1-1.

Story sources: Naseem S. Miller, http://www.orlandosentinel.com/health/os-e-cig-kids-poisoning-rising-20160509-story.html

Salynn Boyles, http://www.medpagetoday.com/Pediatrics/Parenting/57795

Your Child

Happy Halloween! Make it a Safe One.

1:45

It’s that time of year– goblins, ghouls, pirates and princesses will be making their way through neighborhoods with outstretched hands and shy giggles.  Yep, Halloween is here!

Along with the kid’s fun comes parental responsibility. While you can’t protect your little one from every danger, there are steps you can take to help make this holiday safer.

Preventing fires and burns.

•       Select flame retardant materials when buying or making costumes.

•       Choose battery-operated candles and lights instead of open-flame candles.

Make sure your child can see and be seen!

•       Trim costumes or clothing with reflective tape. Many costumes are dark in color and can’t easily be seen by car drivers.

•       Give your child a small flashlight or glow stick to carry with them if they are trick- or- treating after dusk.

The “Great Pumpkin” carving

Carving pumpkins is traditional in many families and while the results can be stunning, great care needs to be taken when children are involved. 

•       Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.

·      Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.

·      Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

Make sure your child’s costume fits properly.

Store bought costumes rarely fit properly, so you may need to make some adjustments.

•       Adjust costumes to ensure a good fit. Long skirts or capes can drag on the ground and cause falls.

•       Secure hats, scarves and masks to ensure that your child can see everything that is going on around them. Also, check to see that nothing is keeping your child from breathing properly. Masks and some super-hero helmets can fir too tightly, making it hard to breathe.

•       Make sure that swords, canes or sticks are not sharp.

Never let your child wear colored contacts.

Colored contacts have become popular with some older children. Often the packets these contacts come in have advertising on the package claiming that, “One size fits all.” They don’t.  These lenses are illegal in some states, but can be found online. They may cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye infections. Avoid these at all costs.

Make your home a safe place for trick or treaters

•       To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.

•       Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.

•       Wet leaves or snow should be swept from sidewalks and steps.

•       Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

How old should children be before they can be unaccompanied by an adult? There is no correct answer to that question. An adult should always accompany young children. When your child is about ten, they may start asking to go with their friends. There are some questions to think about before you decide to let them.

•       What is your child’s maturity level? Do they normally act pretty responsible and make good choices?

•       Who are the friends they want to go with and what is their maturity level?

•       What area are they going to be trick-or-treating in?  Will it be local or in an area your child may not be familiar with?

•       What time to they plan to start and be back home? Give your child a definite time.

Whether your child is with you - or out with friends - make sure someone has a charged cell phone with them.  You want be prepared in case of an emergency.

Halloween has changed over the years and lots of parents now take their children to specific places that host Halloween parties and activities, but whether it’s in a controlled environment or out on the streets, it’s still smart to keep safety first.

Sources: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/pages/Halloween-Safety-Tips.aspx

 Dr. Karen Sherman, http://www.hitchedmag.com/article.php?id=365

Image: http://halloweenpictures2015z.org/halloween-image.html

 

Your Child

More Myths About the Measles Vaccine

2:00

As measles cases continue to climb, people are taking notice. Public health officials as well as a growing list of politicians are asking parents to make sure that their child or children get the MMR vaccine.

While support is growing to have all children immunized against the highly contagious disease, anti-vaccination groups are also speaking out through media outlets, emails, social media and blogs.

In the 1990s, a now discredited study linked the MMR vaccine to autism. Parents reacted with fear throughout world and began opting out of getting their children vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella.

Since that time, dozens of medical studies have been conducted and found no connection between the vaccine and autism. The doctor, Andrew Wakefield, was stripped of his license and the British Medical Journal called his research “fraudulent.”

That hasn’t stopped people from continuing to quote his discredited findings.

With so much attention being given to measles these days, new myths have popped up from people who continue to spread fear about the MMR vaccine.

Two myths in particular are making the rounds:

1. The vaccine doesn’t work because it protects against a different strain.

The first concern, which has been posted on anti-vaccination blogs, is that the vaccine protects against an “A” type of measles virus, while the kind that’s making everyone sick is a “B”-type virus. Therefore, the vaccine doesn’t protect against the kind of measles that’s making everyone sick.

It’s true that are different strains of the measles virus, but it doesn’t act like the flu virus – where different strains can overpower a particular vaccine. Each measles virus is given a letter and a number, for example B3 or D4. They refer to the genetic fingerprint of the virus. Since 1990, 19 different strains, or fingerprints, have been identified, according to the CDC, and scientists use these fingerprints to link infections during an outbreak.

However, the measles virus doesn’t change as much as the flu virus. Once the current vaccine and boosters are in the body’s system – the vaccine protects against all strains of measles.

2. It’s vaccinated people who are spreading measles, not those that are unvaccinated.

The thought behind this myth is that the measles shot, which contains a weakened but live form of the virus, can give people infections that allow them to pass on the disease to others.

It’s an interesting twist according to William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.

“The vaccine virus, can, on occasion, spread to others,” Schaffner says. “That gives them protection. It doesn’t give them disease.”

But, he says, to be clear: "On occasion" means the possibility is so remote that it’s highly unlikely.

If that were to happen, Schaffner says, it would actually be a good thing because the person who “caught” the vaccine virus would get the protection, but not the illness. Most likely, they wouldn’t even know it occurred. Other experts say this is more theory than anything else.

Some parents believe measles is a somewhat minor disease that may cause a short period of illness and doesn’t have any long-term effects. There are even groups that have “measles parties” so their children can build a “natural” immunity.

Measles can be fatal to children, adults with suppressed immune systems and the elderly – that’s a very long-term side effect. It can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) and require intensive care in the hospital. Complications from measles can cause permanent hearing loss. Measles is not something you want to mess with. Medical experts agree that parents need to get the real facts and have their children vaccinated. 

Source: Brenda Goodman MA, http://www.webmd.com/children/vaccines/news/20150210/measles-vaccine-myths

Your Child

Kids: Texting Harassment Up

2.00 to read

For many children, text messaging has become the number one way they communicate with their friends.  A new study shows that a growing number of these kids are reporting being harassed via text messaging.

Of more than 1,100 middle school and high school students surveyed in 2008, 24 percent said they had ever been harassed by texting. That was up from about 14 percent in a survey of the same kids the year before.

On the other hand, actual bullying was down a little. 

In 2008, about eight percent of kids said they'd ever been bullied via text, versus just over six percent the year before.

Though similar, harassment and bullying are not the same. Researchers determined that harassment meant that peers had spread untrue rumors, made rude or mean comments, or threatened a peer. Bullying was defined as being repeatedly picked on.

Parents need to pay attention to their child’s text messaging, researchers say, but they don’t believe parents should be alarmed by the study’s results.

"This is not a reason to become distressed or take kids' cell phones away," said lead researcher Michele L. Ybarra, of Internet Solutions for Kids, Inc., in San Clemente, California.

"The majority of kids seem to be navigating these new technologies pretty healthfully," she told Reuters Health.

The study included 1,588 10- to 15-year-olds who were surveyed online for the first time in 2006. The survey was repeated in 2007 and 2008, with about three-quarters of the original group taking part in all three.

When it came to Internet-based harassment, there was little change over time. By 2008, 39 percent of students said they'd ever been harassed online, with most saying it had happened "a few times." Less than 15 percent said they'd ever been cyber-bullied.

And even when kids were picked on, most seemed to take it in stride.

Of those who said they'd been harassed online in 2008, 20 percent reported being "very or extremely upset" by the most serious incident. That was down a bit from 25 percent in 2006. (The study did not ask about distress over text-message harassment.)

"I don't think it makes sense for parents to get anxious about every new technology, or every new study," said David Finkelhor, who directs the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

"A lot of the old parenting messages still hold true, like teaching your kids the 'golden rule,'" Finkelhor said. "These are discussions that aren't specific to the Internet or cell phones."

And despite concerns that technology has made teasing and taunting easier, Finkelhor said there's evidence that overall, kids are doing less of it these days. "Bullying and victimization are down over the period that Internet use has gone up. It's improving," he said.

Finkelhor credited greater awareness of the problem, among schools and parents, for that decline.

One way that the anti-bullying and harassment message is getting out is through a school program called Rachel’s Challenge. Rachel Scott was the first person killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. The program was inspired by Rachel’s acts of kindness and compassion. 

According to the Rachel’s Challenge website, the programs exists to stand alongside education professionals at every level to inspire, equip and empower students from K-12 to make a positive difference in their world.

Rachel’s Challenge list their objectives for schools as:

  • Create a safe learning environment for all students by re-establishing civility and delivering proactive antidotes to school violence and bullying.
  • Improve academic achievement by engaging students' hearts, heads and hands in the learning process.
  • Provide students with social/emotional education that is both colorblind and culturally relevant.
  • Train adults to inspire, equip and empower students to affect permanent positive change.

Rachel’s Challenge is just one program that schools are looking at to help students understand and stop harassment and bullying. Researchers say that parents still play the most important role in helping children navigate through life’s sometimes hard and cruel maze. One suggestion is for parents to become more familiar with current technology. Other ideas from online support groups are:

  • Encourage your kids to get together with friends that help build their confidence.
  • Help them meet other kids by joining clubs or sports programs.
  • Find activities that can help a child feel confident and strong. Maybe it's a self-defense class like karate or a movement or other gym class.

The study’s findings were reported in the journal Pediatrics

Your Child

Whooping Cough Vaccine Effectiveness Fades

2:00

While the measles outbreak was making headlines around the country, another vaccine related outbreak was already an epidemic.

In the last five years, state health officials twice declared whooping cough (also known as pertussis) an epidemic – once in 2010 and again in 2014. Eleven thousand people were sickened and three infants died.

Whooping cough is a serious infection of the respiratory system caused by bacterium. It is easily spread from person to person.

Symptoms include runny nose, nasal congestion, fever and severe coughing that can sometimes end in the “whooping” sound when a person gasps for air.

Pertussis mainly affects infants younger than 6 months old before immunizations, and kids 11 to 18 years old whose immunity has started to fade.

Although whooping cough can also make adults very ill, sometimes leading to pneumonia and hospitalization, another major concern is that adults are the most common source of infection in infants.

An analysis of a recent whooping cough epidemic in Washington state shows that the effectiveness of the Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis)  used to fight the illness waned significantly over time.

For adolescents who received all their shots, effectiveness within one year of the final booster was 73 percent. The effectiveness rate plummeted to 34 percent within two to four years.

The vaccine has changed over the years and those changes may be responsible for the fading effectiveness. The pertussis protection is from the acellular pertussis vaccine. It was introduced in 1997 to replace the whole-cell vaccine, which caused more side effects. Monday's report confirms earlier analysis that the acellular pertussis vaccine may be safer, but less effective, than the old one.

The latest analysis does not mean or even suggest that children and adults should not get the pertussis vaccine. Someone who is vaccinated, but becomes sick with whooping cough, should have a less severe course of illness. The Tdap vaccine is also recommended for college students who did not receive the vaccine as a preteen or teen.

The authors said that new vaccines are "likely needed to reduce the burden of pertussis disease." But Dr. Art Reingold, who leads the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices group on pertussis, said he doesn't know of any pertussis vaccine development in the pipeline.

An added dose doesn’t seem to help either according to research that was presented to the ACIP group. "(An additional dose) would have very little impact on pertussis," Reingold said, "in terms of cases prevented."

Unvaccinated babies are at the highest risk for whooping cough. Since infants can’t be vaccinated until they are 2 months old, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women get the Tdap vaccine during the last trimester of their pregnancy.

"Babies will be born with circulating antibodies," Reingold said, "and there's pretty good evidence that that will reduce the risk of hospitalization and death in babies."

Reingold also drew an interesting distinction between measles and pertussis having to do with herd immunity. If a large enough percentage of the population is immunized against measles, both individuals and the broader community are protected against outbreak. That's because the measles vaccine protects you against the virus that actually causes the measles illness.

But in pertussis, toxins that are released by bacteria cause the disease. The pertussis vaccine protects you against those toxins, but may not prevent you from spreading the bacteria to others — and causing illness in them.

While the vaccine is helpful in reducing symptoms, Reingold believes that "Pertussis is not going to go away with the current vaccine."

Sometimes there can be a bit of confusion between the DTaP and Tdap vaccines; the letters are similar and they are used to help prevent the same diseases.

DTaP is the vaccine that helps children younger than 7 - years  - old develop immunity to diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Tdap is the booster immunization given at age 11 that offers continued protection.

The Tdap vaccine is the one discussed in this study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Sources: Lisa Aliferis, http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2015/05/05/404407258/whooping-cough-vaccines-protection-fades-quickly

http://www.webmd.com/children/vaccines/dtap-and-tdap-vaccines

 

 

Your Child

Hand Sanitizers Poisoning Young Children

2:00

Poison control centers across America have been seeing an increase in calls about children who are getting very sick from drinking hand sanitizers. Poison control officials are warning parents and school officials about this dangerous trend involving small children, basically getting drunk, on hand sanitizer.

“A doctor called us about a week and a half ago about two cases he saw the same day at the ER,” says Gaylord Lopez, PharmD, director of the Georgia Poison Center. “It was a 5- and a 6-year-old.”

The first patient, a 6-year-old girl, was picked up after school stumbling and slurring her words. She’d also fallen and hit her head. Her mother drove her straight to the ER, where doctors found out she’d eaten two to three squirts of strawberry-scented hand sanitizer from a big container sitting on her teacher’s desk.

Her blood alcohol level was 1.79, almost twice what would be considered the legal limit in an adult.

The second case was a 5-year-old boy, who came in with a blood alcohol level of 2.0. The culprit was hand sanitizer.

Lopez checked the national data and saw these cases were part of an unrecognized trend. In 2010, U.S. poison centers got more than 3,600 calls about kids under age 12 eating hand sanitizers. By 2013, that number had swelled to more than 16,000 calls.

“That’s a 400 percent increase,” Lopez says. “I was surprised more than anyone.”

Many of the hand sanitizer bottles come in bright colors and the sanitizer itself smells like bubble gum and other tasty treats such as lemonade and vanilla. All aromas a child might mistake for the real thing.

The big problem with these products are that they can be anywhere from 40 to 95 percent alcohol.

Drinking even just little bit can make kids intoxicated. It’s like drinking a shot or two of hard liquor.

“You and I don’t have any problem sending our kids with hand sanitizer in their backpacks. But what if I told you that was twice as potent as vodka. That’s like a parent sending a bottle of whiskey or rum to school,” Lopez says.

Alcohol poisoning can cause a child’s heart rate, blood pressure and breathing to slow. They may stagger, seem sleepy and vomit. Their blood sugar can drop rapidly leading to seizures and coma.

Lopez says hand sanitizers are often included in the list of school supplies parents should send to school. He says many adults he’s talked to don’t realize that hand sanitizers contain so much alcohol, or they don’t realize that it’s the kind of alcohol that can cause intoxication.

“I wanted to get the word out. Parents should be aware. Teachers should be aware.”

If you have hand sanitizer at home, keep it out of the reach of young children. If you send hand sanitizer with your child to school- especially during the flu and cold season- use the wipes instead.

You can learn more about hand sanitizer poisoning by calling the American Association of Poison Control Center for free advice at 1-800-222-1222.

If you suspect your child may have ingested sanitizer and is showing any of the above symptoms, take your child to the hospital immediately.

Source: Brenda Goodman, MA, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20150915/hand-sanitizers-poisoning-kids

Your Child

Tips for Handling Halloween Candy Overload

1:45

How to handle the candy bounty from an evening of trick or treating can prove to be a little “tricky” for health conscious parents.

Should you put limits on how much candy you allow your child to eat or let them eat all they want? There isn’t a one-size fits all answer to this question. A lot depends on how well you know your child’s personality and tendencies as well as their general health.

If your little one typically limits his or her eating – say a piece or two of candy when they have more to choose from- then you might be able to trust them to do the same after trick or treating. If your child tends to overdo sweets in general, they might have trouble controlling their candy intake.

To help parents find a way to keep their children happy, but also make healthy choices this Halloween, dietitian Nasrin Sinichi, MS, RD/LD, offers these tips. 

Start by serving a nourishing meal before they leave the house so they're not hungry when the candy starts coming in.

Consider being somewhat lenient about candy eating on Halloween, within reason.

Have a plan before they head out for the festivities. Talk with your child about how the candy will be stored and dealt out. Involving them in the decision-making may help them keep on track.

Encourage your kids to be mindful of the amount of candy and snacks eaten and to stop before they feel full or sick.

If you’re child is overweight and you’ve been working together to help them reach a healthier weight, a boatload of candy can present a problem. You might consider buying back some or all of the remaining Halloween candy. This acknowledges the candy belongs to the child and provides a treat in the form of a little spending money. They still get to enjoy Halloween with their friends, have a few pieces of candy and learn about making different choices.

Another alternative is trading in their candy for something else they want. A video game, book, toy or trip to an entertainment area may appeal to them more than the candy. Again, they still get to choose a few favorite pieces of candy, but the rest is out of the house.

If you choose to limit your child’s candy intake over days or weeks, know how much has been collected and store it somewhere other than his or her room. It’s just too tempting!

Parents of young children should also remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies and small toys. 

Check your child’s candy before it’s given out. Throw it away immediately if you find:

·      An unusual appearance or discoloration

·      Tiny pinholes or tears in wrappers 

·      Spoiled or unwrapped items

·      Any piece that looks like it could be a drug disguised as candy.

Homemade items or baked goods should be discarded unless you personally know who gave them.

When in doubt, throw it out.

Some children have health issues that candy can make worse. Children with diabetes, for instance, may have to follow strict guidelines as to how much candy they can have, if any. If your child has a health condition that could be exacerbated by a spike in blood sugar, definitely talk to your doctor for guidance on how to handle Halloween treats.

And finally, don’t forget to set a good example! Kids aren’t the only ones enticed by candy. Setting limits on how much candy your child gets, then dipping into the candy bag more often than not makes for “do as I say, not as I do” confusion.

The keys to not letting a candy bounty get out of control are moderation, healthy choices, limits and common sense. Celebrating the tradition of Halloween can still be great fun without a candy hangover. Happy Halloween to everyone!

Story source: http://www.hillcrestsouth.com/news/parents-tips-managing-halloween-candy-overload

Your Child

Measles Vaccine May Help Prevent Other Diseases

2:00

The measles vaccine may provide additional benefits beyond protecting children from the highly contagious and sometimes fatal disease.

According to a new study, by blocking the measles infection the vaccine may also prevent measles-induced immune system damage that makes children much more vulnerable to other infectious diseases for two to three years after immunization.

The immune system has the advantage of having “cellular memory” for previous infections to help fight invading microbes.

The study focused on a phenomenon called "immune amnesia" in which the measles infection destroys cells in the immune system that remembers previously encountered pathogens.

Prior research had suggested that “immune amnesia” typically lasted a month or two. The new study, based on decades of childhood health data from the United States, Denmark, England and Wales, showed the measles-induced immune damage persisted on average for 28 months.

Because of the long-term damage to the immune system by the measles infection, children that were not vaccinated and got the measles were more likely to die from other infections.

"The work demonstrates that measles may have long-term insidious immunologic effects on the immune system that place children at risk for years following infection," said Princeton University infectious disease immunologist and epidemiologist Michael Mina, whose study appears in the journal Science.

"The work also demonstrates that, in these highly developed countries prior to the introduction of measles vaccine, measles may have been implicated in over 50 percent of all childhood infectious disease deaths."

Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, but increasing numbers of cases have been reported in recent years, as more people remain unvaccinated. Last year's 668 U.S. measles cases were the most since 1994, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"Our work reiterates the true importance of preserving high levels of measles vaccine coverage as the consequences of measles infections may be much more devastating than is readily observable," Mina said.

The study provided data showing that measles prevention through vaccination lowered childhood deaths from the pathogens that cause conditions such as pneumonia, sepsis, bronchitis, bronchiolitis and diarrheal diseases.

The study comes as many parents opt out of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for their children based on discredited claims about the vaccine's safety or for religious and other reasons.

The MMR vaccine has been thoroughly studied by scientists around the world and has been found safe for children. This new study shows that its benefits may last much longer than previously thought.

Source: Will Dunham, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/07/us-health-measles-idUSKBN0NS23N20150507

Your Child

New Flu Vaccine for 2015-2016

1:45

Last year’s flu vaccine wasn’t as effective as previous vaccines, but this year’s vaccine should be a much better match according to Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   

Typically, the vaccine is 50 to 60 percent effective, making your chances of getting the flu reduced by as much as 60 percent if you get a flu shot.

This year’s flu vaccine contains the H3N2 strain, Frieden said. Last year's vaccine was only 13 percent effective against the H3N2 strain. As a result, "more seniors were hospitalized for the flu than ever before."

What's more, 145 children died from the flu, Frieden said, adding that the actual number was "probably much higher since many flu deaths aren't reported."

About 50 percent of the American population gets vaccinated every flu season. That includes pregnant women. More people, including pregnant women, need to be vaccinated, Frieden said.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get the flu shot every year.

Frieden said there's an adequate supply of flu vaccine this year. Companies are expected to make 170 million doses of vaccine, of which 40 million have already been distributed, he said.

People at risk of flu-related complications include young children, especially those younger than 2 years; people over 65; pregnant women; and people with chronic health problems, such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes, as well as those with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC.

Most seasonal flu activity typically occurs between October and May. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February.

Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because of this, safeguarding them from flu is especially important. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months of age you should get a flu vaccine to help protect them from flu.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

The CDC encourages people to get a flu shot preferably by October. Those children aged 6 months through 8 years who need two doses of vaccine should receive the first dose as soon as possible to allow time to get the second dose before the start of flu season. The two doses should be given at least four weeks apart.

During this flu season:

•       Intramuscular (IM) vaccines will be available in both trivalent and quadrivalent formulations. (High dose vaccines, which are IM vaccines, will all be trivalent this season.)

•       For people who are 18 through 64 years old, a jet injector can be used for delivery of one particular trivalent flu vaccine.

•       Nasal spray vaccines will all be quadrivalent this season.

•       Intradermal vaccine will all be quadrivalent.

The quadrivalent flu vaccine is designed to protect against four different flu viruses; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.

It’s hard to believe that we’re about to head into the flu season, particularly with so many states still experiencing summer like weather. But we are, and getting a flu shot early can help protect you and your family from a virus no one wants to get.

Sources: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/flu-news-314/no-embargo-this-year-s-flu-vaccine-better-match-703392.html

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2015-2016.htm

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