I wanted to provide an H1N1 "wrap-up" to address the great questions that have accumulated on the blog. After this, I promise to move on to a fresh subject.
First, the good news...
As many of you may have noticed already, H1N1 vaccines are more readily available in Charlotte. Many parents are asking questions about whether it is safe for their children to receive the vaccine in school or CVS or Harris Teeter, etc. The answer in most instances is "yes." The exceptions include the fact that FluMist (nasal) should not be given to children under the age of 2 or to children with asthma or who are immunocompromised. But the H1N1 or seasonal flu shot is fine in these cases. Also, if your child has an egg allergy then you should consult with your child's allergist.
The number of office visits to doctors for influenza-like illnesses has declined for two consecutive weeks; however, total influenza hospitalizations continue to climb with the highest hospitalization rate in the 0-4 year old age range.
Which leads me to the bad news...
The number of pediatric deaths from 2009 H1N1 continues to rise. Since April 2009, there have been 156 laboratory-confirmed H1N1 pediatric deaths, 1 death due to influenza B, and 23 pediatric deaths due to influenza that was not subtyped. This brings the grand total to 180.
During a typical year, there are 60-80 pediatric deaths due to influenza.
Deaths due to influenza occur for a couple of reasons. Influenza itself can cause lung inflammation which can lead to hospitalization or death. The incidence of this is higher in children with an underlying medical problem, but can also occur in an otherwise healthy child. The second reason is due to "secondary bacterial infections." In these cases, the influenza infection makes a person more prone to bacterial infections like pneumonia. The pediatric deaths that have occurred represent a variety of these situations.
This information is not meant to scare parents, but I do want parents to be aware that influenza infection poses a true risk for your child- even if your child is healthy. Also, if your child has influenza, then he or she poses a risk to the children with whom he or she comes into contact.
One more loose end...
I am not aware of any reliable source that has reported extra additives or toxins in the H1N1 vaccine. I cannot speak for the vaccine that is given in France (in reference to a posted question), but the vaccine that has been allocated to the United States is manufactured by Sanefi in the same manner as the seasonal flu vaccine.
Next week, on to a lighter topic.