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The Informed Parent

So…What Do You Think About The Swine Flu?

by Shanna R. Cox, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Oct. 19, 2009
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This is the time of year when we see many families in the office for their annual physicals.  Getting ready for kindergarten, a new school, or just preparing to enter another year of sports participation necessitates a discussion about growth, development and establishing expectations for the year to come.  This year, in addition to the usual cadre of questions, a new concern has been injected: SWINE FLU.

For the last several months, usually toward the end of the physical or other appointment, perhaps as they are leaving the room, a parent anxiously asks the loaded question, “So, what do you think about the swine flu?”

With the media barrage of fearful statistics and ominous projections my partners and I have thought a great deal about swine flu, as have our families. Here are a few points that I can tell you about our beliefs at this time:

  • We will follow the recommendations for both annual and swine influenza as published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, as we do in our day-to-day practices of vaccine administration.
  • Two reliable sources of information about influenza are the websites of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the centers for Disease Control. These can be found at: aap.org and cdc.gov.
  • In Long Beach, California the school system may be administering the swine influenza vaccine. We are not certain yet if our practice will carry the swine vaccine. We will know more in the next several weeks.
  • We will begin annual influenza vaccination slightly earlier than in years past, with a start date of September 1, 2009.
  • We have had cases of suspected swine flu already this year. Fortunately, they have been with expected flu symptoms and course, with no additional complications.
  • We cannot predict how the swine flu and annual influenza season will overlap. Nor can we predict how the subsequent virus strains will look in terms of whether the symptom course will be mild, equal, or more severe compared to the typical winter influenza season.
  • We are concerned, as always, about how contagious these viruses are. We encourage families to be vigilant in their hand washing, and to keep their children at home if they are sick. This is important so as not to unnecessarily expose classmates and sports teams to illness.

As more information and experience is available about this particular influenza season, we will update our families and our practices as needed in a timely fashion.

Remember, we are all in this together! We are available for other specific questions as they arise!




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