We now have flu vaccine for all kids between the ages of 6 months and 3 years old. If any of our patients in your family has an appointment between now and November 1, we encourage you to bring all of our patients in the family at that time. We will be vaccinating as many people as possible while they are already in our office. If no one is due for an appointment before November 1, we will schedule a flu clinic appointment for you. The times that these are scheduled varies, and an appointment for a flu clinic is required. We expect to have the vaccine for kids over 3 years old soon, and will begin scheduling flu appointments for older kids once we have the vaccine in our office.
For kids under 9 years old, a booster dose may be required (if the child has not received 2 doses before this season). For kids with egg allergy, the shot may need to be given at the allergist. Again this year, we will only be giving flu shots, not the intranasal flu vaccine.
Flu season typically peaks in mid-February. While many people think of "stomach flu" (which is usually caused by an unrelated virus) when they hear the word flu, influenza is more dominantly an upper respiratory infection, with coughing, runny nose, fevers, body aches, and generally feeling lousy. Complications of the flu can include a secondary pneumonia or dehydration, among other rare outcomes. The flu vaccine offers good protection against several of the strains of the flu that will circulate this year and there is evidence that even if a vaccine recipient gets the flu, it is likely to be less severe than in an unvaccinated person.
Influenza patients in higher-risk groups--including patients under 2 years old, patients with underlying medical problems such as asthma or heart conditions, patients who live with someone who is at high risk from contracting the flu, such as a younger sibling, an older relative, or an immunocompromised person--may qualify for Tamiflu treatment. It is most effective if started within 48 hours of the beginning of symptoms. Tamiflu may reduce the severity and duration of influenza. Because Tamiflu can have some undesirable side effects, including nausea and vomiting, we tend not to prescribe it for lower-risk patients. However, the decision whether or not to use Tamiflu in an influenza patient will be made based on the overall circumstances of the illness and the patient's individual health. Children in low-risk groups, but with severe illness will generally be treated with tamiflu.