Advanced Pediatrics is very pleased and excited to announce its annual Flu Fest, the 2016 round – contact our office at 216-591-1515 to sign up today!
As many of you know it is recommended that all people 6 months of age and older be immunized against influenza once a year.
Why is this recommended, what benefit does it provide, what’s the best time of year and approach to getting immunized?
Why is this recommended, how does it help?
The answer to this question has everything to do with what the influenza virus is.
The word flu is very confusing, because it has two very robust meanings:
- The flu can mean any cold that is severe and achy. This sort of flu can be caused by dozens of different viruses, including not only the influenza virus but also rhinovirus, adenovirus, coronavirus, and many more.
- The flu can also refer to only infections caused by this one species of virus, the influenza virus. The influenza virus can cause what looks like a cold, the flu (definition #1 just above), ear infections, even pneumonia.
Stomach flu is an entirely different problem, different set of viruses. The influenza vaccine has no impact on getting the stomach flu.
It turns out that about 1/3 of all colds and flus in the winter are caused by the influenza virus, so getting immunized against the influenza virus gets rid of about 1/3 of all your colds and flus for that year.
This benefit is especially important for anyone with any lung disease such asthma, or any chronic disease such as diabetes, but it saves lives at every age.
The vaccine does not work if under 6 months old so that is the only reason babies under 6 months old are the only large group of people not recommended to receive.
When to get the influenza vaccine, how is it given?
Many people wonder, why does this vaccine have to be given every year when all others are given every several years or even just twice in a lifetime?
First of all, the influenza vaccine is a dead vaccine. There are very few live vaccines, like the measles vaccine. Nearly all are, like the influenza vaccine, dead.
Dead vaccines never offer permanent protection, which is why such vaccines as the tetanus vaccine require boosters all our lives.
More interestingly, the influenza virus is one of the only that changes every year! Think about any other virus- chickenpox, measles, all cold viruses, roseola- they are the same over many, many years. Our colds are from the same exact viruses as the ones our grandparents had. That’s why most live viral vaccines, like the measles vaccine, are good for life. Once you are immune to one measles virus, your are immune to them all, forever. The virus does not change.
But the influenza virus changes every year because it also does something almost no other virus can do, it switches species every 6 months! That’s right. Every winter influenza virus infects humans across the world. But every summer, even right now, almost no one has the influenza virus, but millions of barnyard animals do. Sometimes pigs, sometimes cows, sometimes horses, unusually birds. The virus has to change each 6 months to shift to infecting an animal species every summer, and then again when it switches back to humans every winter. Those changes render our past immunity to past strains only marginally helpful. Our past antibodies from past vaccines and influenza infections keeps influenza infections from being very deadly, but we still get colds and such from them.
The switch back to human happens typically in late December, so the influenza vaccine needs to be in place by the middle of December.
Our influenza vaccine Flu Fest will be in September and October, well before any influenza viruses arrive in Ohio, or even the US.
In past years, we were so happy that the influenza vaccine came in a nasal spray form, but the versions made this year have been shown not to work, so the nasal version is not being sold, at all, anywhere in the United States, even Cleveland. That means the only way the influenza vaccine comes this year is as a shot.
- Anyone 10 years old and up only needs one influenza vaccine a year.
- Anyone 9 years old and younger who has ever had any influenza vaccine in the past only needs one influenza vaccine a year.
- Anyone 9 years old and younger who has never had an influenza vaccine needs two shots, for just one year.
SO, WHEN ARE THE ADVANCED PEDIATRICS FLU FESTS?
There will be three, all on a Saturday. Each once more featuring Mitchell’s homemade ice cream, compliments of Mike Mitchell, many thanks once again!!!
The first will be September 24 8:00-11:30 AM
The next two will be in October, we are finalizing those dates pending shipment confirmation of vaccine for those days.
- Flu Fest 2016 kicks off Saturday, September 24 at Advanced Pediatrics, 8:00-11:30 AM, call now to schedule. Two more Saturdays will be announced for October.
- We will once again be featuring Mitchell’s HomeMade Ice Cream
- Only the flu shot is available in the US for influenza vaccinations.
- Influenza viral infections account for about 1/3 of all winter time colds and flus, so immunizing against the influenza virus will eliminate about 1/3 of your child(ren)’s colds and flus this winter.
- The influenza virus arrives in the US, typically, by mid-December, so you can be protected if you get the influenza vaccine by late November.
See you at Flu Fest 2016 – contact our office at 216-591-1515 to sign up today!
To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin