Influenza infections, especially Influenza A, are increasing in our area. At ABC Pediatrics, we have vaccinated a record number of patients this year, some for the first time, which is GREAT news!
However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta are reporting that a strain of the influenza virus (H3N2) has “drifted” from the strain that was used to prepare components of this year’s vaccine. The CDC reports that 48% of the Influenza A (H3N2) viruses collected and analyzed in the United States from October 1 through November 22, 2014 were antigenically “like” the 2014 – 2015 influenza vaccine component, but that 52% were antigenically DIFFERENT (drifted) from the H3N2 vaccine virus. When that has happened in the past seasons (as with H1N1), decreased vaccine effectiveness has been observed. That does NOT mean that this year’s vaccine is ineffective. On the contrary, this year’s vaccine will still provide some protection against “drifted” viruses. Though reduced, this cross-protection might reduce the likelihood of severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death. In addition, vaccination will offer protection against circulating influenza strains that have not undergone antigenic drift from the vaccine viruses (such as Influenza A (H1N1) and Influenza B viruses).
The BEST form of protection from the influenza virus is PREVENTION. We’ve listed some common sense measures below. However, if your child develops symptoms of the flu, please call our office at 910.892.1333 and schedule an evaluation and in-office lab testing to confirm that the infection is the flu. If it is, and it is detected early, we can provide prescription medication for your child that will help to minimize the severity and length of the infection.
Our Advice to keep you healthy:
- Call us for your flu vaccine. Painless flu mist or injectable available everyday!
- Wash your hands frequently or use a hand sanitizer.
- Eat well and drink plenty of fluids.
- Get at least 8-10 hours of sleep every night.
- Use the crook of your elbow to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
- Use disinfectant sprays on table tops, door knobs and toys.