Flu Recommendations for 2018-2019

Flu Recommendations for 2018-2019

Dr. Tina Tan, an Infectious Diseases specialist at Lurie Children’s, shares information and recommendations with us for the 2018-2019 flu season, specifically updated information on the flu mist.

The flu mist is back this year. Why?

The company that makes intranasal influenza vaccine has reformulated the vaccine so that the strains contained in it are more stable. This method of administering a vaccine is very useful and does work so it should be retained as another way that vaccine can be administered

Who should receive the flu mist?

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Practice have made injectable influenza vaccine the preferred vaccine in children for this flu season. There is very limited information on how effective the newly formulated intranasal vaccine may be so only children who should receive the intranasal vaccine are those children who absolutely will not receive a flu vaccine if it is a shot. Any type of flu vaccine is better than no flu vaccine at all.

Is the flu mist more effective than the shot?

It is unknown what the effectiveness of the intranasal vaccine is. The old formulation was NOT effective against the H1N1 influenza A strain and this influenza season it is predicted that H1N1 will be the major influenza strain circulating. In general, the injectable vaccine has been shown to be more effective in older children.

Can I choose what type of vaccine to receive?

Depends on the pediatric practice, however, the recommendation is that everyone receive the injectable vaccine. The intranasal vaccine should only be used in those situations where a child will absolutely not be vaccinated if the vaccine is given as an injection.

Last year the flu vaccine wasn’t very effective, what is prediction for this year?

It is too early to know the effectiveness of this year’s influenza vaccine.

Even if the vaccine isn’t highly effective in preventing flu, why is it still better to get the vaccine?

Many studies have shown that even though a vaccine may not be as effective, receiving the vaccine provides some protection. Vaccinated individuals are much more likely to have mild disease if they get influenza infection and are much less likely to have complications and/or die from the disease.

What are some typical flu symptoms?

  • Fever (101⁰F, 38.3⁰C or higher)
  • Cough
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Sore throat

These are usual flu symptoms for older children and adolescents. However, Dr. Tan notes that babies may not have many symptoms at all. If your infant is fussier than usual or experiencing fever, diarrhea or vomiting for more than a day, she suggests making a call to your physician.

How does the flu spread?

When the flu is found in school, daycare, and in families, it is typically started and spread by children. Young kids carry higher levels of the virus so when they’re in a close environment, like school, it’s very easy for the illness to spread. Then, kids get home and pass it to their families who spread it in the community.

When should you see a doctor for flu symptoms?

Most children with the flu won’t need medical care or testing, but if your child’s symptoms are severe, you should give a call to your pediatrician or family physician. Your doctor can help you decide on a proper treatment plan. Overall, children with flu symptoms should be doing the following:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Get rest
  • Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen
    • Do not give your child aspirin
  • Stay home from school if they have a fever
  • Don’t give cough and cold medicine to children under 4 years of age

How can you prevent the flu?

  • Get the flu vaccine!
  • Wash your hands
  • Cover your cough and sneeze

Who should get the flu shot?

  • EVERYONE ages 6 months and older

This includes, but is not limited to, children and adolescents with conditions that increase the risk of complications from the flu (i.e. diabetes, asthma, immunosuppression, etc.), healthcare personnel and childcare providers.

The only contraindication for the flu shot is an anaphylactic reaction to eggs. Even those with minor allergies should still get vaccinated.

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