Avoiding a Sick SproutOK guys – As a healthcare provider (even if I’m on an extended “break”) I wanted to put this out there as my nurse’s Public Service Announcement for all parents who have babies, young children, kids, if you have little baby cousins, nieces and nephews, best friends who have little babies, or who are pregnant… GET A FLU SHOT!

Flu season is September 1st through March 31st (that’s the guideline we follow in the hospital) and the best way you can protect your child against a whopping case of sleepless nights, fever, crying, irritability, difficulty eating, etc etc is to get vaccinated and to vaccinate your kids!

Why Vaccinate?

In general, your baby needs to be up-to-date on all vaccines. ALL VACCINES. There really is no excuse for this. So much media sensationalism exists trying to unjustifiably pin long-term health effects on vaccinations, but no. Don’t buy into it. It’s ridiculous. It leads to worse problems, like the resurgence of diseases that used to be things of the past. Here on Little Sproutings, I try not to be incredibly opinionated about some issues, but failing to vaccinate your child is a whole other story. 

For more about vaccinating your child overall, see the “Additional Info” section below and additional resources at the end of this post.

Flu Vaccinating You & Your Sprout

The flu virus affects everyone. Babies and young children especially need a vaccine to defend their little bodies against the flu, because their immune systems aren’t at full strength and the effects of a flu illness are worse for them. Additionally, the course of a flu illness is more easily complicated with pneumonia because of a developing immune system.

What does this mean?
That your child is more likely to wind up in urgent care or an emergency room and require hospitalization after being infected with a flu virus compared to children older than 4 years old. Prepare them with a fighting chance to avoid or lessen the severity of the virus by vaccinating them!!

Everyone – even babies (6 months and older) – need to get vaccinated for the flu.

The CDC recommends it. This flu season (again, that started September of 2014 and lasts until the end of March in 2015) has already resulted in 1 pediatric death from the flu (CDC). Last year’s flu season had 109 total pediatric flu-related deaths, and at this time last year (by week 44) there were 2 flu-related pediatric deaths. 

If you’re pregnant, it’s ESPECIALLY important for you to get your flu vaccine! Your immune system undergoes changes throughout pregnancy which can make you  more vulnerable to catching the flu. Also, once you’re vaccinated, your immunity is passed on to your growing little one, and offers some protection for after your baby is born.

Pregnant Women click here for information from Flu.gov specifically for you.

For info from Flu.gov for children and infants, click here.

The peak time for flu-related pediatric deaths

The first four weeks of the year (basically, the month of January) tends to show spikes of pediatric deaths related to the flu, and the CDC has trended peaks of overall flu activity over the past 32 years to be in February, with most activity from October through March. So, it’s really important to make sure your babies and kids are vaccinated as soon as possible and especially before the new year, to stretch out that protection! 

Though the CDC reports that this current flu season is not as aggressive as previous years, it is important to keep it that way by staying vigilant in flu vaccinations. Reporting of flu-associated deaths in those less than 18 years old has been a required notifiable condition since 2004 due to alarming numbers of pediatric flu deaths in previous years. 

Click Here for a Weekly Update “FluView” from the CDC, for nationwide flu activity.

Click Here to visit Flu.gov.

The Vaccine

Infectious Disease scientists develop a new flu vaccine every year, about 9 months prior to the onset of flu season. They predict the flu strains based off of the viruses that are present at the time and the vaccine is formulated with 3 or 4 (depending on the type) inactivated strains to allow the body to develop antibodies against the virus, giving the recipient what it needs to fight off a later exposure. 

Something I learned in my research (and since Jia got vaccinated this past Friday) is that children 6 months through 8 years old will need 2 doses of the flu vaccine each time. And, at their FIRST vaccination for the flu, they’ll need their second dose 1 month from the first dose. 

The FluMist Nasal Vaccine

Only given in children 2 years or older, with no history of recurrent wheezing or asthma (or other immune compromising condition), severe allergy to eggs, and not taking aspirin-containing medications. The 2-year age minimum is due to the fact that the FluMist is a live active virus and may cause wheezing after administration in young’ns. 

Thimerosal

The ethyl mercury-containing preservative, thimerosal, is used in some vaccines including the flu vaccine. The CDC has found no evidence that thimerosal has any negative effects, but the CDC has removed it from all routine children’s vaccines since 2001, in case (source). This is not the same as methyl-mercury, the kind that is found in some fish and accumulates in your body’s tissues.

There are lots of substantiated articles discrediting those loons claiming a link between vaccines and autism, but Click Here for an article on “Vaccines and autism: Separating Fact from Fiction.”

Side Effects

After vaccination, the likelihood of experiencing bad after-symptoms are low. The flu vaccine does not cause the flu. The flu shot is made of an inactivated virus strain which means it is NOT active! The FluMist is a weakened live virus that is made to remain inactive in the body. (source)

Symptoms, if experienced at all, include: 

  • soreness or redness at the spot of injection
  • low-grade fever (less than 100.4 F in adults and children)
  • fatigue/feeling tired

The flu vaccine does not cause the flu. Period.

They should go away within a couple of days. According to the CDC’s Flu Vaccine Information Statement, severe allergic reactions are really rare and only occur in 1 in one million cases and would occur within a few minutes to a few hours after receiving it. 

So go make sure your little Sprout is protected this flu season!

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Additional Info: Vaccinating Your Sprout

So – you don’t think that Polio, Measles, or Whooping Cough are a big deal? A thing of the past? Well they’re not. Not anymore. Because diseases that are vaccine-preventable have been coming back and it affects everyone. You know what else has been on the rise? The perception that vaccines are unsafe.

There is a reason why vaccines exist in the first place.  And it’s to prepare your immune system for an attack from wild viruses that can lead to devastating illness and sometimes death. Modern medicine has blessed us with a longer life-expectancy than back when “old timey” illnesses existed, and one of those advances is the development of vaccinations.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 11.26.48 AM

(source info above from CDC.gov)

Many state laws require children to be vaccinated before attending public AND private schools and can ban unvaccinated children until that requirement has been met. Some states, however,  allow for a religious exemption but that seems to be a grey area since I’m not sure you can require proof of religious affiliation for that. One particular lawsuit that was filed by an NYC mother was due to the barring of her daughter at school because she wasn’t vaccinated. The mother claimed she had some sort of “religious revelation” during pregnancy and that her reason for choosing not to vaccinate was because her baby had an “onslaught of food and milk allergies” after receiving infant vaccines. Oh give me a break. Needless to say the lawsuit (like many others of this nature) were rejected.

Curious what your State’s vaccine requirements are? Click here to visit the CDC’s resource.

Uh Oh Spaghetti-O’s…

In the past couple of years, a resurgence in measles, whooping cough, and other vaccine-preventable diseases “of the past” has occurred. Why? Because parents, though well-meaning, are not vaccinating their children. NPR reports that in the ’80s, when people were vaccinated against Whooping Cough, less than 2,000 cases existed. In 2012, a nearly whooping (ha, see what I did there?) 50,000 infections with the bacteria were reported.

“Viruses and bacteria have taken full advantage of the immunization gaps.” – NPR.org

Like the CDC says, “These diseases are much less common than they used to be. But the germs that cause them still exist, and even a disease that has almost disappeared will come back if we stop vaccinating.”

Sources:

BabyCenter – The Flu Vaccine for Children: http://www.babycenter.com/0_the-flu-vaccine-for-children_1463462.bc

Flu.gov – http://www.flu.gov

CDC Flu Activity & Surveillance: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/fluactivitysurv.htm

CDC Influenza-Associated Pediatric Mortality: http://gis.cdc.gov/GRASP/Fluview/PedFluDeath.html

CDC The Flu Season: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm

FluMist Quadrivalent Info: https://www.flumistquadrivalent.com/consumer/index.html

CDC Thimerosal: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/thimerosal/

CDC Flu Key Facts: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm

Outside the Beltway.com: Federal Court Rules Unvaccinated Children Can be Barred from Public Schools: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/federal-court-rules-unvaccinated-children-can-be-barred-from-public-schools/

NPR.org How Vaccine Fears have Fueled the Resurgence of Preventable Diseases: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/01/25/265750719/how-vaccine-fears-fueled-the-resurgence-of-preventable-diseases

CDC.gov Info on Vaccines For Your Baby: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/multi.html

CDC.gov School and Childcare Vaccine Database: http://www2a.cdc.gov/nip/schoolsurv/schImmRqmt.asp

 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vaccine Information Statement for your Baby:  Your Baby’s First Vaccines