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Flu is Here - Not too late for vaccine
last updated:
Tue, 12/04/2012 5:52 PM

This year's flu is in full swing sending lots of kids to the hospital. We talked to Dr. Jon McCullers, pediatrician in chief at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. Here's what he had to say.

We are seeing an influx of children with the flu in our Emergency Department. Symptoms are cough, sore throat, fever and body aches. The onset of this year’s flu is mostly concentrated in Tennessee and throughout Texas.

The strains are covered by the vaccine, and it is not too late to get vaccinated. The vaccine is your most important weapon as we enter flu season. It’s quick and easy, as well as safe and effective. In general, healthy children and adults ages 2-49 years of age may receive either the injection or the nasal spray version of the vaccine.  Typically, the nasal spray seems to work best in the younger population from around the ages of 2 to 7. That’s because those kids haven’t typically been exposed to the flu yet, and the spray seems to benefit that particular age group’s immunities.

The best means of prevention is good hand hygiene – wash hands or use hand sanitizer, cough into your sleeve and stay away from sick people and crowds. There are good antiviral treatments available from your pediatrician, and it is particularly important for children with underlying illnesses such as asthma, seizures, lung heart or kidney disease, diabetes and others to get to the doctor early to prevent the infection from getting worse.

Parents, Don't Dismiss the Flu Yet
last updated:
Wed, 2/29/2012 12:16 PM

As spring is fast approaching, so is a round of influenza. The Emergency Department (ED) at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital has been extremely busy, seeing more than 300 patients a day with flu-like symptoms. We talked to Dr. Jon McCullers who was recently appointed as Le Bonheur’s pediatrician in chief and chair of Pediatrics for The University of Tennessee Health Science Center. He answered some common questions parents have about the flu.

Is it too late to get the flu vaccine?
No. The shot can protect children to some effect as early as seven days after the vaccine, although full protection takes two to three weeks. Thus, a flu shot now can protect during this outbreak.

Is my child protected from this flu outbreak if he/she received a flu vaccine last fall?
Yes. The vaccine offered now is the same as last year's and protects against approximately 95 percent of all flu viruses. 
 
When should I seek emergency medical treatment for child?
Uncomplicated flu (fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, generally feeling sick) can and should be diagnosed in outpatient settings, such as pediatric offices. Treatment and advice on care for the flu are also most appropriately delivered by primary care physicians. The ED can help deal with complications of the flu, including severe dehydration, febrile seizures fom the flu and infections of the brain or lungs. Pneumonia, when the disease moves to the lungs, can either be viral or result from bacteria complicatings the flu infection.

What can parents do to protect their kids?
The flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu. Proper hand hygiene and good cough etiquette are also critical. Encourage your children to wash and sanitize their hands frequently. Cover all coughs and cough into your sleeve.

How much longer could this flu outbreak last?
It varies from year to year. Six to eight weeks would be typical, and of course a second wave from a different strain could occur later or even overlap.

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Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center is a leading children's hospital in the Mid South, providing pediatric care to children from 95 counties in six states.
50 N. Dunlap Street, Memphis, Tennessee 38103 • (901) 287-KIDS