By Corey A. Fish, MD FAAP Pacific Crest Children’s Urgent Care
Hi Holy Cross Parents! While it seems just recently that we were basking in the warm sunshine of our premier Pacific Northwest Summer, the leaves are now turning and cough and cold season is upon us once more.
To help you get ready for flu season, I wanted to share some recommendations and provide answers to several common flu related questions that parents submitted.
Before we get to that, I thought it might be good to review what exactly influenza is.
What is influenza?
Influenza, commonly known as “the flu” is a respiratory illness marked by cough, snotty nose, fever, muscle aches (called myalgias) and sometimes sore throat. Contrary to popular belief, influenza is not the same thing as “the stomach flu,” which typically refers to other viral illnesses marked by vomiting and diarrhea.
How do I prevent influenza?
Despite the fact that influenza vaccines aren’t the most effective vaccine in the world for prevention, it’s still the best way we have to ward off this illness. Also, by getting the vaccine, even if you or your child get influenza, it helps protect against serious complications such as trouble breathing or need for a hospital visit. So far, the first round of vaccines has been shipped and once clinics run through the initial stock of vaccine, typically more is ordered. Sometimes there’s a bit of a wait. Our clinic was fast off the blocks on vaccine and we just ordered more!
This year’s vaccine is what we call “quadrivalent” meaning it covers 4 strains of vaccine. For those interested, those strains are
- A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
- A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 A(H3N2)-like virus (updated)
- B/Colorado/06/2017-like (Victoria lineage) virus (updated)
- B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (Yamagata lineage) virus
While each season’s vaccine includes different strain coverage, the composition of the vaccine does not change year to year so this year’s vaccine is what it is. Due to the length of time needed to manufacture the vaccine, there’s no way to change it in the middle of flu season.
Types of flu vaccine
There are a few different manufacturers of influenza vaccine. Each maker typically offers either single dose preservative free syringes (where the medicine is already pre-dosed for your child), or bulk vials that contain 10-20 doses of vaccine. A nurse or medical assistant would measure from this vial into a clean syringe to administer to your child. The multi dose vials do contain preservative.
While I don’t worry about preservative containing vaccines, I definitely respect that some parents don’t want preservative containing vaccines. We stock only preservative free, single dose syringes for children 6 moths of age and up. Beyond selecting multi dose with preservative vs. single dose syringes, there is no way to customize the flu vaccine further.
Is there any link between influenza and acute flaccid myelitis?
You may have heard in the news that there is a mysterious polio-like illness affecting children in this country, so far with 62 confirmed cases this year. Unfortunately, investigators don’t have any idea what is causing this terrible illness. It does seem to manifest with some viral symptoms, most similar to things like enterovirus or west nile virus as well as a few others. There is no link between acute flaccid myelitis and influenza at this time.
When to seek medical care
- Child under 2 years of age with flu like symptoms
- Fever past 3 days duration
- Signs of dehydration
- Trouble breathing
- You are concerned as a parent
Pacific Crest Children’s Urgent Care
Pacific Crest is a Holy Cross supporter that offers high-quality children’s urgent care in Portland, Oregon. If it’s not quite an emergency, come to us for expert pediatric care at a lower cost than the emergency room. When your child is sick or injured, you shouldn’t have to worry about high out of pocket costs or problematic scheduling. From uncomfortable to very ill, we offer a wide range of well-priced services, with most visits completed in under thirty minutes.
FIND US FAST!