Last year, with all the hype surrounding the H1N1 (swine flu), patients came in droves to get their flu shots. My practice, as well as many across the country, ran out of vaccine and had difficulty getting more vaccine. This year is a different story. Without much media attention, and an overall mild flu season so far, my practice has not immunized even half the number of patients that it did last year.
I first started seeing some influenza about a month ago. It was mostly respiratory symptoms with some occasional upset stomach. Luckily, schools let out for their winter breaks at roughly the same time as the flu started to surface. With the kids out of school, there was a slowdown in the spread of infection
Over the holidays, I continued to see patients with the flu, but only sporadically. I am very concerned that over the rest of the winter there will be more widespread flu, as I feel that people have not prioritized flu shots this year . My guess is that now that school is back in session, we will see a large increase in flu and flu-related problems, including pneumonia.
Fortunately, the strains that are now prevalent in the U.S. are susceptible to antiviral medications. To be most effective, these meds need to be given early in a patient’s illness. So, early detection – even as early as 24 hours after a fever starts – at your doctor is wise, especially if there are underlying health problems.
It is not too late to immunize your family. This year, the vaccine covers both seasonal flu and the H1N1 strain. The vaccine is recommended and available to everyone 6 months and older. And remember, if you have a baby in your house less than 6 months old, make sure every household contact is immunized to build a “cocoon” around your baby.
For more information visit the CDCs website at www.cdc.gov/flu
All information given is not a substitute for the advice of your pediatrician, primary care provider or trained health professional. Always consult with your pediatrician or health care professional.