Flu Vaccine Facts for Winter 2016
It’s time to think about flu vaccines for this year. Unfortunately, the very popular FluMist vaccine is no longer approved for use because it has been essentially ineffective over the past few seasons. This is very disappointing news for pediatric patients who overwhelmingly chose the “spray” over the “needle” in past flu seasons. It’s unknown what the cause for the recent lack of efficacy is for FluMist, but in any event, it’s no longer an option for 2016. That means that all flu vaccinations this season will be a shot (Sorry, kids).
It is possible that the retraction of the recommendations for FluMist will result in significant vaccine shortages. While the introduction of another flu vaccine product, Flucevax, has been approved by the FDA for use this Winter and may reduce the degree of shortages, we would still recommend that if you want to get your child vaccinated this year that you try to do so early. We have been informed that we will receive just a fraction of our total order before the end of October, which we are holding for our higher risk patients. We apologize for the inconvenience this may present to many of our patients, but unfortunately this is a situation beyond our control. If you are interested in having your child vaccinated before then, we will do whatever we can (prescriptions for vaccine, etc.) to help streamline that process for you. If you find you have not gotten your child vaccinated by Halloween, you will want to schedule a nurse visit with us as we should have most of our supply by then.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) both advise you to have your child vaccinated if s/he is older than 6 months of age. Overall effectiveness of the vaccine has been essentially stable at around 50% since 2006 for children 2y – 17years of age with “down years” in 2007 (37%) and 2014 (25%). While that’s not quite as high as we might like it to be, it’s still significant protection from a disease that can make you quite miserable. Don’t be fooled by the use of “the flu” in common conversation as a minor viral illness (as in “Oh, I have a little touch of the flu”). Influenza (the REAL “flu”) is extremely miserable and is associated with between 10,000 – 35,000 deaths in the U.S. each year! While the overwhelming majority of these are elderly, since 2008 about 135 children die annually from influenza-associated disease, 80% of whom were not fully vaccinated.
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