Influenza Season

Influenza Season has begun for this year. While not nearly as dreaded as last year’s season with its arrival of swine flu, this influenza season still presents challenges and a reminder to prepare as the weather turns colder and people in closer contact have the ability to spread viruses more quickly. Flu vaccines are available from most family physicians, who are knowledgeable about the particulars of each season. The Academy of Family Physicians provides its doctors with information on the current vaccines, epidemics and influenza health concerns.

Though the World Health Organization officially declared the H1N1 pandemic over in mid-August, 15 months after the initial outbreaks began last year, the memory of the chaos of the historic 2009 H1N1 pandemic remains a vivid memory for many as flu season begins in Colorado. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health, flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February. While last year 12 pediatric deaths occurred in Colorado children due to influenza, in a routine year one to two pediatric deaths are expected during influenza season.

This year, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a universal recommendation that anyone older than six months of age should receive the 2010 trivalent influenza vaccine. This vaccine includes the H1N1 strain. High risk patients and healthcare workers are also strongly encouraged to get their flu vaccine. However, the CDC and the CAFP do not recommend that the particular vaccine Afluria be used in children aged six months through eight years. This is based on recent data that suggests an increased risk of febrile seizures in children aged six months through four years, and a higher frequency of fever in children from five to eight years old. The number of vaccine doses for children in this age range for the 2010–2011 influenza season varies from one to two doses depending on the vaccine received in 2009.