Does my child still need a flu shot?
An expert addresses new CDC report on flu vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement on Dec. 3, 2014, that left some wondering if they even need a flu shot this year.
The short answer is yes because your child is still more protected than without one.
Donald Murphey,M.D., medical director of Infectious Disease at Cook Children’s, was on a conference call with the CDC the morning of Thursday, Dec. 4, to discuss the advisory.
The dominant influenza strains at present in the US are influenza A, H3. There are two of these strains present this year:
- One is a good match for the vaccine currently in use.
- The second, accounting for about half of the samples tested, is a new flu A, H3 strain that was not seen until March 2014.
This new strain is not included in the current vaccine, but Dr. Murphey says it will likely be included in the vaccine for next year.
“This strain has drifted from other similar strains seen in the last few years. This new flu A could be associated with more severe influenza cases, and a more severe flu season in general, Dr. Murphey said.
But he stresses that parents and their children should still get a flu shot.
The CDC recommends:
- Treatment with antivirals for influenza more emphatically this season in hopes of preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) that fight against the flu in your body. Antiviral drugs are not sold over-the-counter. You can only get them if you have a prescription from your doctor or health care provider. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics, which fight against bacterial infections.
- Staying home if you have flu-like symptoms.
- Cover your cough.
- Frequent hand washing.
“We should still be using flu vaccine, as it is our best way to prevent this potentially serious illness,” Dr. Murphey said. “People's best chance of avoiding influenza and complications of influenza is to be immunized every year. That’s how we build up a community that can protect themselves from new strains, even when we did not have a vaccine for it yet.”