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Should you avoid the FluMist (again)?

The latest recommendations about flu vaccines

FluMist flu vaccine

Get ready for some unhappy kids. It’s time to start getting the yearly flu vaccine, and the FluMist is being tossed aside.

Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics stopped recommending the nasal spray, saying it was barely effective at preventing the virus. Experts are doubling down on that stance by telling families to stay away from the spray again this year.

“For a long time, we thought the mist was most effective,” said Brian E. Posnansky, M.D., pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Associates – Middletown.  “But research has shown the mist hasn’t offered great protection in recent years.”

Norton Healthcare and Norton Children’s doctors aren’t carrying the mist this year, but they do have shots available for patients 6 months and older. Dr. Posnansky said the shot is the best way to prevent the flu, which infects up to 20 percent of the local population every year.

Get with your doctor

You can schedule your child’s flu shot with your pediatrician. Don’t have a pediatrician?

“We know kids — or adults for that matter — don’t enjoy getting shots, but that’s not a reason to skip the vaccine altogether,” Dr. Posnansky said. “Parents of children with needle phobia should be honest that the shot will hurt, but only briefly. It may also help to tell children old enough to understand that the vaccine’s purpose is to stop them and people around them from getting very sick. If that doesn’t work, sometimes offering a reward, like a sticker or extra time on the iPad will.”

Here are some other points to keep in mind as flu season approaches:

Who should get the flu vaccine?
  1. Children 6 months and older
  2. Pregnant women
  3. People age 65 and older
  4. People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  5. Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  6. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
    • Health care workers
    • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
    • Household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children younger than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
Other ways to prevent the flu
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds or by using alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches an object that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from contracting your illness.
  • Stay home from work, school and running errands if possible when you are sick. This will help prevent others from catching your illness.

Remind children to also practice these healthy habits because germs spread easily at school and in child care settings, resulting in high rates of missed school among students and staff.

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