Sunday, January 11, 2015

Why you should still get the flu vaccine if you haven't already

Flu activity is still high across most of the country with flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths elevated. Flu season will probably continue for at least several more weeks to months. While the flu vaccine may not work as well as usual against some H3N2 viruses, vaccination can still protect some people and reduce hospitalizations and deaths, and will protect against other flu viruses. 6 months old is the minimum age for the first dose of the flu vaccine. Don't forget that, in order to be well-protected, children under 9 years old are supposed to get 2 doses of the flu vaccine at least 28 days apart. Influenza antiviral drugs (Tamiflu) can treat flu illness. The CDC recommends these drugs be used to treat people who are very sick or who are at high risk of serious flu complications (for instance all children under 2 years old) who have flu symptoms, even with a negative flu test. Early antiviral treatment works best. Take a look at this great blog post written by the mother of two of my former patients in Houston. The embedded video is particularly moving.