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Important Flu Season Reminder!

We would like to give you an update and some facts regarding this year’s flu season.

FLU TESTS – There is a nationwide shortage of flu tests. The major distributors (Henry Schein, McKesson and Besse) are out of flu tests. We do not see a remedy to this situation for some time. It’s an unfortunate combination of events that have caused this: the loss of the older but more readily available tests, the peak of flu season, and a flu season that has resulted in a 600% increase in demand for flu testing. Our clinic still has a limited supply of flu tests. These will be used for our youngest patients and for those with underlying major medical conditions. We wanted all to be aware of this so that if you call or come in for a visit for the flu concern there may not be a test because there is none available and it is truly out of our control.

FLU AND FLU VACCINE – The single best and most effective way of preventing or “treating” the flu is to get yourself and your child vaccinated. The currently active H3N2 strain is in the quadrivalent (meaning 4 strains, 2 A strains and 2 B strains) vaccine that we administer to our patients. A large scale study presented in the April 2017 issue of Pediatrics (our specialty’s medical journal) showed A 58% REDUCTION IN DEATH RATE if a child had received a flu vaccine prior to becoming ill. I don’t know that there is much more that can be said to convince someone that the vaccine is worth their time and their child’s discomfort.


Should you get a flu shot if you’ve already had the flu illness? YES! The flu vaccine has multiple strains and so you were likely infected with one strain. Every year there are multiple “peaks” as the different strains come into their own and are the active circulating flu virus. So a vaccine will offer protection against these other strains.

You heard the flu vaccine was a bad match?
FALSE! This data is gathered AFTER the flu season and no such determination has been made. This is incorrect and even dangerous as it prevents people from getting immunized.

Tamiflu is a miracle drug?
NO! Tamiflu is an effective medication at helping to reduce severity and length of flu symptoms. However, it is not a cure. It also has significant side effects with HALF (51%) of all children experiencing side effects significant enough to make them stop the medication. These can include hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, severe vomiting and severe headache. It really is intended to be used for those who have significant other health issues (cardiac or lung disease for example) to help prevent pneumonia or death.

So what treatment is the best?
1. Vaccination
2. Rest
3. Fluids (best to flush the body and kidneys) 4. Comfort measures such as tylenol or ibuprofen for discomfort and pain.
5. Tamiflu for those who have significant health issues.

To sum up…Flu test shortage nationwide, not likely to be fixed anytime soon. Vaccinate, it is not too late! 58% reduction in death rate in children who were vaccinated vs those who were not. Treat the flu as we always have. Rest, fluids and comfort measures.
Dr. Jeanne Schaefer







Copyright 2018