Influenza 2012 – 2013 Season
There have been 64 deaths in children this season, with 20% of them being in children who had received the influenza vaccine. While the vaccine is clearly not 100% effective, it does still provide some real protection. I get the vaccine every year and have never had a serious influenza illness in my 25 years of working with all of the sickest kids. I do not carry the multi-dose vaccine that has mercury (thimerosal) and I discourage the use of that version of the flu vaccine in children. Recently, we had multiple severe influenza cases with 3 children positive for influenza A. We still have some flu vaccine and will order more if needed if enough patients express the desire for the vaccine.
Those who rapidly become very ill (typical symptoms are fever, head ache, body aches and cough) in less than 2 days, should be evaluated as they may be good candidates for Tamiflu (oseltamivir), an antiviral medication that can reduce the severity of the illness. It is not helpful to start this medicine after day 3 of illness and most children with influenza do not need Tamiflu. Influenza is not typically dangerous, and most healthy children are not at any risk of death. Most pediatric deaths, historically, have occurred in children with underlying heart, lung, or other serious chronic medical conditions.