State Confirms Rio Grande Valley Site of First Pediatric Flu-Related Death, 74 Cases of Flu Last Week at Cook Children's
Last week, Nov. 17-23, 2019, 826 patients were tested for the flu, with 210 testing positive for the flu (197 Flu B, 13 Flu A) and 209 more testing postive for RSV.
5-year-old did not receive flu shot
The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed the state’s first child death of the 2019-2020 Flu Season in a tweet on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Texas DSHS reported the 5-year-old child from the Rio Grande health region did not get the flu shot this year.
Texas flu activity continues to rise and is at an above-average level, per the week’s DSHS flu report.
At Cook Children’s Medical Center, the lab tested 529 children for the flu during the week of Nov. 10-16, 2019. A total of 74 kids tested positive for the flu (63 with Influenza B and 11 with Influenza A) and 152 more were confirmed to have RSV.
“For more than 50 years, hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received season flu shots,” the agency wrote in its tweet.
“The flu vaccine is still the best form of protection we have to fight off getting sick,” said Justin Smith, M.D., a pediatrician at Cook Children’s in Trophy Club. “The vaccine is especially important for children aged 6 months to 5 years. They are at the highest risk for serious flu-related complications, including death. Even if you do get the flu, people who are vaccinated generally get a milder and less dangerous form of the illness.”
Two types of flu vaccine are available for the 2019-2020 flu season. Both protect against four types of influenza viruses: Influenza A (H1N1), Influenza A (H3N2) and two influenza B viruses.
You may remember the spray shot wasn’t previously available for children because it didn’t work as well. The newer versions appear to work as well as the shot. So either vaccine can be given this year, depending on the child’s age and general health.
The nasal spray is approved for use in people 2 years through 49 years of age. People who are pregnant or have certain medical conditions (such as asthma) should not receive the nasal spray influenza vaccine.
Influenza/Flu Information for North Texas
Influenza, commonly known as "the flu," is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract. It affects all age groups, though kids tend to get it more often than adults.
In North Texas, Flu season runs from October to May, with most cases happening between late December and early March. Click here to schedule a shot of flu prevention for your child.
More Helpful Links About The Flu
Doctors agree that nothing fights off the flu better than the vaccine, including all children 6 months and older.
And thanks to recommendations, based on research, that includes children who are allergic to eggs.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found the rate of anaphylaxis after all vaccines is 1.31 per one million doses given.
Based on guidelines from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, people with egg allergies no longer need to be observed for an allergic reaction for 30 minutes after receiving a flu vaccine. It is now recommended that people with a history of severe allergic reaction to egg (any symptom other than hives) can now be vaccinated in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting, under the supervision of a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.
"All children with egg allergy of any severity can receive an influenza vaccine without any additional precautions beyond those recommended for all vaccines," the AAP wrote in the September 2018 edition of Pediatrics as part of its "Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2018-2019."
Backing up the AAP and CDC, is new research in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, which found the flu shot to be safe and recommended its use for people who are allergic to eggs.
Jason Terk, M.D., a Cook Children’s pediatrician, said previous recommendations on egg-allergic individuals not receiving a flu vaccine were based on the fact that most of the flu vaccine currently available is created from viral cultures in chicken embryos. Experts theorized there was a risk because of the concern that small amounts of the egg that the viral cultures come from could end up in the vaccine.
“After years of study and observation, it was found that no significant increased risk for reactions occur in egg-allergic people,” Dr. Terk said. “The recommendation to avoid flu vaccine for egg-allergic people has been removed. No medical intervention is without risk. But the risk of influenza and the complications arising from it far exceed the infinitesimal risk of influenza vaccination.”
If you have concerns, Dr. Terk said your pediatrician should be happy to answer questions about your child and why the flu vaccination should be given.