Pediatric Associates of the NW Blogs

Updates to Flu Vaccine Recommendations for 2016-2017 Flu Season

M. Allison Moorman, MD
October 20, 2016 11:30AM

 

It may be hard to believe, but flu season is already upon us.  It is time to review our annual flu recommendations and update you with two very important changes for this year.  

In conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control, we at Pediatric Associates of the Northwest strongly recommend that all patients six months of age or older receive the annual flu vaccine.   If this is the first time your child is getting the flu vaccine and he/she is 8 years old or younger, your child will need a booster injection 4 weeks after the initial dose.  After this, he/she will need only one annual flu vaccine for all subsequent seasons.  

There are two notable changes for this season:

  • FluMist (the nasal spray) is not recommended this season.  Some studies showed decreased effectiveness compared to the injectable vaccine. Therefore, Flu mist manufacturers did not release any doses to clinics. Additionally, health plans are not covering it this year. We are using the single-dose quadrivalent, injectable vaccine for all our patients this season which includes 4 strains of influenza virus.  This recommendation may change for upcoming flu seasons, and we will keep you updated.
  • People who have egg allergies can and should receive the flu vaccine. In the past it was recommended that a person with egg allergy (hives) be monitored for 30 minutes in a medical setting for signs of allergic reaction.  Studies have shown, however, that it is very unlikely that a person with egg allergy will develop a severe allergic reaction after receiving the flu vaccine.  If a person has a history of severe allergy to egg (including lip or tongue swelling, difficulty breathing, or recurrent vomiting), it is recommended to receive the vaccine in a medical setting where someone is available if needed to recognize and treat severe allergic reactions.

The two most common reasons we hear from families who choose not to vaccinate their children against the flu are “But we never get the flu in our family” and “A friend/family member/child got the vaccine and got sick.”  To address the first, even if you are lucky and don’t get severe flu symptoms, if you do contract influenza, you are contagious and may spread it to someone who isn’t so lucky in the community. This includes infants under age 2, the elderly, and children with immunosuppressive conditions who are not able to fight the flu virus. These groups are most at risk for severe complications from flu, including death.  To the second point, the injectable vaccine contains only killed flu virus components.  There is nothing in the vaccine itself that could cause flu-like symptoms.  The vaccine arrives and is given at the start of cough and cold season when people are coming down with colds already, and it is coincidental that this fell close to receiving the flu vaccine.

We also have several new pain reduction techniques to reduce pain with shots, which you may have already heard about at your child’s well visit or shot appointment.  This includes distraction toys, the buzzy bee, shot blocker, and numbing cream and spray.  Please ask your child’s healthcare provider about these options or click here to read about all the pain reduction options we offer. 
Our flu clinics are now in full swing at both office locations!  Please check our website for the most current flu clinic information and call our office to make an appointment.

For more information on the updated flu guidelines this year, please visit:

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/egg-allergies.htm
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2016-2017.htm