Vaccine protection against flu (influenza) is coming soon. Thankfully, last year’s confusion caused by two separate vaccines is eliminated. This year’s flu vaccine, both the injectable and the nasal forms, protects against both novel H1N1 and the season strains of flu. Not only from a confusion standpoint, but also from a health benefit standpoint, this is good news. Unlike seasonal flu, which causes severe disease in both the elderly and youngsters, 90 percent of deaths from H1N1 were in people younger than age 65 years.
The current recommendation of the US Center for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/flu ) is to immunize ALL children against flu starting at six months of age (if local supplies are limited, the highest risk groups will be targeted). All household members and caregivers of babies too young to receive the immunization should also be vaccinated, as well as all caregivers of children of any age.
As always, children nine years old and older need only ONE dose of flu vaccine this year. Children below nine (eight years old and younger) will receive one dose of flu vaccine this year as long as they received at least two doses of seasonal flu and one dose of H1N1 vaccine in the past.
The children who need two doses of flu vaccine this year are the ones younger than nine years old who received zero or one seasonalflu vaccine in the past or who have never received H1N1 vaccine.
With school start comes illness season, so remember to schedule your children for their flu vaccines early this fall. Speak with your child’s health care provider about which form of flu vaccine is appropriate for him or her. Then schedule your own flu vaccine.
Remember the artwork from last year? The picture is a rendition of H1N1 from the perspective of a kindergartener. Note the large boogie to nose ratio. The red represents “boss germs” and the purple shows the “just plain mean ones.”
Ah-CHOO! Banish FLU!
Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD
© 2010 Two Peds in a Pod℠
Sept 16, 2010 a quick add- if your child actually had H1N1 last year (confirmed by a test) you can consider it the same as getting the H1N1 vaccine in the 2009 season (just building up immunity the hard way)