Bay Clinic Pediatrics Blog

Flu Facts

By Mary Moore, MD FAAP

Fall is here, the leaves are beginning to turn, school is in session, and kids are beginning to share - GERMS.  It's also time to get your family their yearly flu vaccine.
What Is Flu?
Flu season generally begins in late fall and ends in the spring.  Influenza is caused by three types of viruses: A, B and C.  Most flu outbreaks are caused by types A and B.  Influenza is a RESPIRATORY virus.  It is highly contagious and is most so in the twenty four hours prior to symptoms and the period when the symptoms are at their worst.  Flu symptoms include abrupt onset of fever often accompanied by chills, headaches, lack of energy, a dry cough, and muscle aches.  As the illness progresses, other symptoms such as a sore throat and a runny or stuffy nose may develop and worsen.  Some children also have abdominal  pain, nausea  and vomiting.
Why is Flu Dangerous for Children?
1.  Children commonly need medical care because of influenza, especially before they turn 5 years old.
2.  Severe influenza complications are most common in children younger than 2 years of age.
3.  Children with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system are at especially high risk of developing serous flu complications.
4.  Each year an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of influenza complications.
5.  Flu seasons vary in severity, however some children die from flu each year.  Since 2004 pediatric deaths reported to CDC during flu seasons ranged from 35 deaths per year to 348.
Flu Vaccines
There are two types of flu vaccines given to children age 6 months to 18 years of age.
1.  The injection:  This can be given to children 6 months of age through adulthood.  It is protein from a killed virus.  The side effects that are most commonly seen are local pain and tenderness.  Fever is also seen within 24 hours after immunization in about 10% - 35% of children younger than 2 years of age but rarely in older children and adults.
2. The nasal spray:  This can be given to HEALTHY children age 2 years and older.  It is the best vaccine choice for children 2-8 who do not have a precluding condition such as asthma. It is a live, attenuated (weakened ) virus.  This has the potential to cause mild symptoms including runny nose, headache, wheezing, vomiting, muscle aches and fever.
Can my child receive the flu vaccine if they have an egg allergy?
Most children with an egg allergy can safely receive the influenza vaccine in the office without the need for allergy consultation.  Influenza vaccine given is well-received by nearly all children and adults who have an egg allergy.  For children with a history of severe egg allergy, an allergy consultation is still recommended.
Our flu vaccines are available and we recommend that you call to schedule early to protect your family prior to the onset of Influenza.   Any of our physicians would be happy to discuss any questions that you might have regarding flu vaccine for your child.
Posted: 10/13/2014 3:16:32 PM by Jon Yost | with 0 comments
Filed under: fever, Flu, illness, Influenza, school, shots, vaccines

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